Media reports say the Brazilian miner Vale is in talks with Chinese companies to sell a stake in its nickel plant in New Caledonia.
Vale is facing a massive drop in the price of nickel and announced in July it was reconsidering the plant's future, stoking fears in New Caledonia of thousands of job losses.
The Financial Times quotes unnamed sources saying Vale through Canada's Scotiabank is in discussions with several Chinese companies, including Shenzhen-based Gem Co.
It says Gem Co. recycles cobalt and nickel for the type of batteries expected to become industry standard for electrical vehicles.
Vale, which is the world's top iron producer, has ruled out investing more money into its plant in New Caledonia.
The nickel price has recovered slightly in recent weeks but is still well off its highs of the past decade when New Caledonia's multi-billion-dollar plants were being built.