Report: French nickel sector in danger of collapse – by Annabel Cossins-Smith (Mining Technology – August 3, 2023)

The report analyses the long-term negative results of three of France’s major metals corporations operating in New Caledonia.

France’s nickel production sector is at risk of collapse and must be refinanced and restructured to meet EU critical raw materials independence goals, a new government report warns.

The report, published on Tuesday, analyses the long-term negative performance of three of France’s most significant metals corporations operating in New Caledonia, a French territory off the east coast of Australia that is home to approximately 10% of the world’s nickel supply. Société Le Nickel, majority state-owned Koniambo Nickel and Prony Resources Nouvelle-Calédonie are all at risk of falling further behind their Indonesian and Chinese competitors.

“Unprofitable as they are, these companies depend on both private and public funding to carry out their activities,” the report states, warning that a complete breakdown of the sector is possible if nothing is done to rectify the situation.

The lag in production is attributed primarily to the price volatility of nickel in the market, technical problems relating to production at factories, and rising energy and labour costs. If the sector is restructured effectively, the report estimates that French nickel production could meet 85% of all French gigafactory needs and 15% of overall EU demand.

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