The New Caledonian nickel company, SLN, says it will be forced to close its smelter tomorrow if negotiations with the striking unions fail.
The CSTNC union has been on an indefinite strike for 19 days at SLN in an effort to win the reinstatement of two workers sacked last September.
Negotiations are continuing between SLN and the strikers as the smelter faces closure with the possible loss of hundreds of jobs.
SLN's spokeswoman, Pascale Minder, warns that SLN has not enough ore to keep the smelter operating.
"It is a very difficult operation, something we have not done before and the risk is that the smelter can be damaged very seriously. So we hope we won't have to do that."