9 May 2016

New Caledonia's SLN awaits Eramet response

5:27 am on 9 May 2016

The French mining conglomerate Eramet is today due to consider New Caledonia's offer to help save the SLN nickel plant, which is the territory's most important private sector employer.

The French government offered a huge loan for a restructure as it was losing more than half a million US dollars a day.

New Caledonia's three provinces had given their conditional approval for taking on part of the $US240 million loan offered by the French prime minister Manuel Valls.

But all eyes are now on SLN's parent company Eramet to see what sort of commitment it can make to restructure SLN, whose viability is further at risk if it doesn't get a new power plant.

New Caledonia's STCPI provincial umbrella group said Eramet had to accept part of the blame for the crisis because of a failed strategy.

Its head said before the nickel price slumped more than $US900 million in dividends were disbursed and the construction of the power plant deferred for a decade.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades