Nickel in New Caledonia, an important mineral for the archipelago and for the separatists | EUROtoday

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In New Caledonia, there’s hardly an issue that doesn’t come immediately or not directly from nickel, or that doesn’t lead again to it. Grande Terre, the primary island of the archipelago, right this moment below a state of emergency, declared after a number of nights of violence, comprises between 20% and 30% of the world's reserves and produces 8% of processed nickel. But the sector of this ore, found in 1864 within the Melanesian archipelago and really unstable on the London Metal Exchange, the London inventory market dedicated to metals, has been going by a disaster with severe social repercussions for greater than ten years.

Follow our dwell: Live, riots in New Caledonia: the scenario is “far from a return to appeasement”, in line with Sonia Lagarde, mayor of Nouméa

“Nickel flows from the range and the massifs, it also flows through the veins of New Caledonians and makes their hearts beat. It is part of their life, their history and their destinysummed up Joël Viratelle, when he directed the Maison de la Nouvelle-Calédonie in Paris. “Green gold” has all the time been an important ingredient of the financial well being of New Caledonia. » But additionally “the key to “rebalancing” and sharing the wealth ensuing from the Matignon agreements [1988] then from Nouméa [1998] », he added. So many disillusioned hopes, which clarify the demonstrations and the present blocking of websites.

This sector offers 1 / 4 of direct and oblique jobs. The ore can also be essential for the downstream of the commercial chain, since it’s used within the composition of chrome steel and car batteries. But its value fell by 45% in 2023 and continues to deteriorate, regardless that the International Energy Agency predicts a tripling of demand within the subsequent twenty years. In its second annual report on metals, revealed Friday May 17, it even warns that “the fall in prices masks the risk of future supply tensions”.

Factories shut down

Alas, the New Caledonian nickel panorama is devastated. Production fell 32% within the first quarter. The French group Eramet recorded a 50% drop in gross sales because of the persevering with difficulties of its subsidiary Société Le Nickel (SNL), the most important native employer. “Despite good operational performance, [elle] continues to be structurally deficit due to the price of energy, access to resources and the cost of labor”, defined the CEO of Eramet in February. Christel Bories ended up concluding, in the beginning of March, an settlement with the federal government to wash up its steadiness sheet: the State loans to SLN (320 million) and the intra-group debt (325 million) might be transformed into an instrument of “quasi-equity”.

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