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New Caledonia: ‘Factory shelves of the North’, employment fears

After several weeks of negotiations between the state and the shareholders of the nickel plant in the north of the main island of New Caledonia, operated by Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS), the decision was made to put the plant into operation. A six-month transition period. A period of time that will make it possible to find a buyer for the shares in the project owned by the Anglo-Swiss group Glencore (49%, the other shareholder is the Northern Province itself). “The search for buyers is necessary and we are ready to support it”On Monday, February 12, the office of the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, announced.

On Monday, the leak of an internal memo on social media caused the industrialist to communicate. In a press release dated Tuesday the 13th, Neil Meadows, president of KNS, said that negotiations between shareholders and the state failed to find anything. “An alternative solution acceptable to Glencore”.

On the same day, the president announces the decision made at the general meeting to suspend the activities “hot” devices. KNS aims to resume activity as soon as a new partner arrives.

Management also assures that during this period, all direct jobs at KNS will be maintained. KNS represents 3,701 jobs (1,319 direct jobs, 1,457 indirect jobs and 925 job vacancies) whose contribution is vital to the survival of the Caledonian Social Security Fund. Today, only the fate of the subcontractors remains uncertain. Individual meetings with the leadership will be held in the coming days.

“High operating costs”

“Despite the assistance offered by the French government, high operating costs and the current very weak market conditions mean that KNS remains an unprofitable operation., Glencore justifies in a press release. The Anglo-Swiss company recalls that it has spent 4 billion dollars since 2013, and almost 9 billion have been spent since the start of the project, without the plant reaching profitability.

In response to New Caledonia Renaissance MP Nicholas Metzdorf in front of the National Assembly on February 6, the Minister of Economy detailed the proposal made to Glencore: “60 million euro subsidy on energy price, 45 million euro additional resources, 100 million euro loan..

Source: Le Monde

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