No New Century for New Caledonia nickel – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – September 8, 2020)

New Century Resources has withdrawn its offer to buy the New Caledonian nickel assets of mining giant Vale, leaving one of the Pacific nation’s main industries in disarray and putting the spotlight on the curious role played by one of Australia’s biggest nickel producers, IGO Limited.

New Century confirmed on Tuesday it would not proceed with the deal announced in May, saying it was unable to secure appropriate funding.

But the proposed deal has also faced other pressures in recent weeks, with some politicians calling for it to be delayed until after the October 4 referendum that will determine whether New Caledonia achieves independence from France.

New Caledonia media have reported subcontractors to the mine have been blocking access out of concern their contracts could be revised if the mine were sold to New Century.

The development comes just six days after New Century’s major shareholder, IGO, sold its 18.4 per cent stake in the miner. IGO had been a significant shareholder in New Century for less than four months.

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