Politicians in New Caledonia's southern province are split over a suggestion to give the territory a controlling stake in the SLN nickel company, which is the largest private sector employer.
The idea was pushed by the president of the southern province, Philippe Gomes, and has been endorsed by the USOENC union.
The bid is linked to fears that SLN's French parent company, Eramet, could be controlled by foreign companies.
But politicians in the southern province are divided over Mr Gomes's initiative.
A Rassemblement-UMP politician, Pierre Bretegnier, has spoken out against the idea, saying it is the option of the pro-independence camp.