11 Jan 2021

New proposal mooted in New Caledonia nickel plant sale

5:47 pm on 11 January 2021

The president of New Caledonia's Southern Province has made a fresh suggestion on how to structure a purchase of the Vale nickel plant.

Speaking on television, Sonia Backes said New Caledonian shareholders should hold 51 percent while the stake of the Swiss commodity trader Trafigura be reduced to less than 20 percent.

The tentative sale to a newly formed consortium, Prony Resources, which includes Trafigura, was widely resisted last year and led to protests, which culminated in arson attacks at the Vale plant.

Opponents wanted Sofinor of the Northern Province to become the owner in partnership with Korea Zinc, but Vale rejected the bid.

Ms Backes's proposal comes as further talks are planned on the Vale plant's future.

Thousands of jobs are at risk if the site is mothballed or closed.