13 Jul 2020

New Caledonia's SLN fears insolvency

3:31 pm on 13 July 2020

New Caledonia's largest private sector employer, the SLN nickel company, has warned that it risks running out of money by the end of the year.

SLN smelter in Noumea New Caledonia

SLN smelter in Noumea New Caledonia Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

SLN keeps incurring losses and is on track to use up the remainder of a $US600 million loan given to it in 2016 by the French state and its parent company Eramet.

Its CEO Colin McGibbon said last year alone SLN suffered a $US90 million loss.

The company said it needed a capital injection from its minority stakeholders as the majority stakeholder Eramet would not give any more advances.

It appealed to the three New Caledonian provinces which jointly own about a third of SLN.

McGibbon said after improving export returns earlier this year the Covid-19 pandemic complicated matters.

He said to help SLN survive, electricity costs needed to be lowered and a permit to be issued to allow SLN to export two million tonnes of nickel ore.

The SLN plant in Noumea.

The SLN plant in Noumea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

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