Nickel: the Vale plant in New Caledonia has found a buyer

Posted on Dec. 2020 at 12:25

After months of negotiations, failures, blockages and tensions in New Caledonia, the Brazilian giant Vale has maintained its choice of buyer for its nickel plant in the south of the archipelago. This Wednesday, a “ firm agreement for the purchase of shares in Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie Has been sealed, management announced. The plant will therefore be sold to Prony Resources, a consortium composed of 50% Caledonian interests and 25% of the Swiss trader Trafigura. The remainder goes to a multi-party investment company.

This is a decisive step in ensuring a sustainable future for the Usine du Sud., commented General Manager Antonin Beurrier in a press release. The Prony Resources business plan will secure more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The announcement comes as tensions on the spot had increased in intensity at the end of the year. If the factory did not find a buyer, it was threatened with closure, which would have endangered one of the largest private employers in Caillou. After negotiations with an Australian junior failed, Vale entered into exclusive discussions with the consortium including trader Trafigura.

Burned gas station

This offer aroused the total hostility of the separatists of the FLNKS, of the collective “Usine du sud: factory pays” and of the Indigenous customary body of negotiations which denounced the presence of Trafigura, a Swiss trader of raw materials, splashed by scandals. of corruption. These groups put forward another offer including Korea Zinc, but this was rejected by Vale.

As a result, clashes broke out between separatists and non-separatists. This week, tensions have gone up a notch again with in particular the fire at a gas station. “ Armed gangs have repeatedly attacked the security forces. Successive clashes took place […] and we deplore burnt businesses, a ransacked park and one injured among our firefighters », Explained the mayor of Mont-Dore, Eddie Lecourieux.

Castex condemns the violence

Prime Minister Jean Castex himself condemned “ firmly “Tuesday this violence. Asked by parliamentarians, he stressed that “lhas top priority Was to “save the 3,000 jobs” at this strategic site. While the management of Vale had extended discussions with the consortium for a few days, intrusions on the site of uncontrolled individuals were noted and the group had to deny the rumor of a chemical leak. The climate of tension was such that Korea Zinc decided on Monday to withdraw from the competing offer.

Vale has invested nearly $ 3 billion in its plant, but lacking profitability and under pressure since the disaster at the Brumandinho mining dam in 2019, the mining group has decided to separate its nickel plant. After technical difficulties, the site was resized and now produces Nickel hydroxide cake, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of electric batteries, a booming market.

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