23 Feb 2009

Nickel price drop pressures New Caledonia's SLN company

1:38 pm on 23 February 2009

A business analyst says New Caledonia's nickel industry is also facing pressures to adjust to the economic crisis.

At New Caledonia's sole nickel producer, about 2,500 workers could now face a cut in working hours as the SLN nickel company tries to cope with the price slump.

SLN, the territory's biggest private sector employer, announced plans for a 10-percent reduction in working hours and a 20-percent cut in production to deal with the downturn.

A senior analyst at Ord Minnett in Australia, Peter Arden, says lower demand for nickel will force some adjustment.

"We still see surplus nickel production and the major stainless steel producers have all cut back dramatically, so there is this crisis affecting the sector and we were looking for some major cutbacks, and unfortunately they would have to include New Caledonia, because to date, they have resisted making any adjustments."

Peter Arden expects there will be a further drop in the nickel price this year, which will lead to further cutbacks.