The Vale nickel company in New Caledonia says three bids are in to buy the 95 percent stake put up for sale by Vale of Brazil.
The head of its Noumea-based subsidiary has declined to name them but said by the end of June he expected the deal to be signed off.
Southern Province President Sonia Backes, who attended a meeting with Vale's leadership, said for geostrategic reasons the French state will pay attention to who the buyer would be.
Accompanying the sale is a restructure of the operation for which $US120 million has been approved.
Up to 140 employees are expected to lose their job once the nickel refinery closes as Vale prioritises making NHC, or nickel hydroxide cake, which is in demand for batteries for electric vehicles.
The restructure also includes plans to export two million tonnes of nickel ore a year, but this requires an amendment of New Caledonia's mining code.