New Caledonia unrest pushes nickel sector deeper into crisis (France 24 – May 28, 2024)

Noumea (AFP) – Weeks of unrest in New Caledonia have plunged the archipelago’s nickel industry, already on government life support, closer to catastrophe, sector representatives say. The French Pacific territory is the world’s third-biggest producer of nickel, behind Indonesia and the Philippines, and ahead of Russia and Australia.

Nickel, a silver metal used as an alloy to make stainless steel, electronic components and jewellery, is also a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, making it critical for a transition towards cleaner energy.

But since May 13, when riots sparked by a constitutional reform project broke out, nickel mining and processing has been at a standstill.

And although France has lifted a state of emergency across the territory after two weeks of unrest in which seven people died and hundreds were injured, few expect a fast return to normality in the nickel industry.

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