Vale says workers at its New Caledonia nickel processing plant, which has had its operations suspended for more than two weeks, will be paid until next Monday.
The Goro plant was temporaily shut down after 100,000 litres of effluent, containing some acid, ended up in a creek.
Vale has not said when the plant will reopen.
Local media reports members of the indigenous population are still blocking the plant's entrance in a protest to have it shut down permanently.
But the business organisation MEDEF has said if the plant is closed for good, 1,350 jobs will be at stake, resulting in huge economic and social implications to the region.
It is also concerned the plant's suspension will have a snowball effect on other industries which subcontract and supply to Vale.