New Caledonia's provinces look set to have a difficult time persuading a French company to sign over a controlling stake in the SLN nickel company.
Provincial authorities agreed to begin talks with the French metals mining group, Eramet, on taking over its local unit.
The bid is linked to fears that SLN's French parent company, Eramet, could become controlled by foreign companies.
Here's our correspondent in Noumea, Claudine Wery
"They have to discuss. It could be difficult because Eramet doesn't want to do it, but in a political sense, they may have to discuss it, because there is a process of decolonisation here in New Caledonia, through the Noumea Accord. And the Noumea Accord said that each big society, in which the French Government is present, there will be a transfer between the french Government and the local authorities."