French ‘nickel pact’ to bail out New Caledonia’s industry delayed

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New Caledonia's President Louis Mapou
New Caledonia's President Louis Mapou . . . seeking Congress endorsement of the nickel mining plan. Image: 1ère TV

By Patrick Decloitre, RNZ Pacific correspondent French Pacific desk

The signing of a “nickel pact” to salvage New Caledonia’s embattled industry has not been signed by the end of March, as initially announced by French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Le Maire had hinted at the date of March 25 last week, but New Caledonia’s territorial government President Louis Mapou wants to have his Congress endorse the pact before he signs anything.

The Congress is scheduled to put the French pact (worth hundreds of millions of euro) to the debate this Wednesday.

The pact is supposed to bail out New Caledonia’s nickel industry players from a grave crisis, caused by the current state of the world nickel prices and the market dominance of Indonesia which produces much cheaper nickel in large quantities.

The proposed aid agreement, however, has strings attached: in return, New Caledonia’s nickel industry must undertake a far-reaching reform plan to increase its attraction and decrease its production costs.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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