The French Eramet company says its nickel-producing SLN subsidiary in New Caledonia should ideally shed 500 jobs by 2012.
SLN, which is New Caledonia's biggest private sector employer, has just under 2,500 people on its payroll but the Eramet head, Patrick Buffet says to save about 130 million US dollars, 20 percent of the jobs need to be cut.
Mr Buffet says he'll be able to elaborate on this in November when he expects to visit New Caledonia.
Eramet has just announced a 326 million US dollar loss for the past year, reversing a profit of just 600 million dollars the year before.
Three weeks ago, the New Caledonian government rebuffed a bid by the SLN nickel company to cut the number of hours worked at its plant to cope with the economic downturn.