New Caledonia's Goro Nickel company has seen the departure of its general manager, Phil du Toit, a year after he replaced Ron Renton.
Noumea's daily newspaper says the change at the company's helm was rumoured for weeks, with Michel Sylvestre set to succeed Mr du Toit.
Goro Nickel has confirmed the change in leadership, saying it reflects the logic of the multi-billion dollar project which is moving from construction to operation.
The new plant, which is owned by Vale of Brazil, is set to start production next year.
However, the project has been under a cloud as opposition to a pipeline into the sea has led to the suspension of work.
This comes as New Caledonia awaits a Unesco decision on whether to declare the lagoon in the territory's south a world heritage site.