A leading New Caledonian politician says it is out of the question to mothball the Vale nickel plant.
Philippe Gomes, who is a member of the French National Assembly and a former New Caledonian president, made the statement in response to media reports about plans to shut the plant, with the loss of thousands of jobs.
Last week, Vale's CEO Fabio Schvartsman told the Financial Times that Vale would mothballed the plant at Goro in the second half of 2018 if there wasn't a partner prepared to buy a 20 to 40 per cent stake.
In a statement, Mr Gomes said the plant had managed to increase nickel production substantially while cobalt production is poised to grow by 250 per cent this year.
He also said there still needs to be an investment of about $US500 million into tailings storage facilities.
Earlier this year, Mr Schvartsman warned that there would be no more money invested in the Goro plant which for years had been running at a loss, in part because of a slump in the price of nickel.
However, there have been reports of Chinese companies being increasingly interested in nickel for batteries in electric vehicles.
Mr Gomes said the Vale plant is a technological gem with a future.
And therefore, he said, New Caledonia and the French state are opposed to its closure.