The French metal mining group Eramet has announced plans to cut jobs and production at its nickel mines in New Caledonia, despite reporting increased profits for 2008.
Eramet's chief executive, Patrick Buffet, says it will shortly present unions with measures linked to cuts in production, rationalising and reducing costs.
He says measures include non-replacement of departing workers as well as part-time lay-offs, a hiring freeze and limits to overtime work.
The proposed cuts target Eramet's nickel mining subsidiary SLN, the biggest private sector employer in New Caledonia.
The company announced its 2008 profits rose by 19 percent to 694 million euros or 873 million US dollars, largely due to a sharp rise in the price of the metal manganese which offset the plunging price of nickel.
Eramet employs 16,000 people worldwide, including more than 3-thousand in nickel operations alone.