Eramet’s New Caledonia nickel business seeks help with new cash crunch

New Caledonia. Source: Wikicommons

SLN, the New Caledonian nickel producer controlled by French mining group Eramet, is seeking help from a court-appointed expert to lead talks with stakeholders as it faces a cash squeeze from production setbacks and soaring costs, it said on Friday.

SLN has for years tried to improve profitability which has been hit by social unrest and energy supply issues in the French Pacific territory.

After obtaining an increased export allowance in February under a previous rescue plan, SLN’s finances have been strained again by weather disruption to output, mounting prices for energy and other inputs, and a fall in nickel prices, Eramet has said.

“SLN is putting everything in place to overcome its cash crisis,” SLN said in a statement on Friday.

The nickel producer received in September the last part of 63 billion Pacific Francs ($549.21 million) in loans provided by Eramet and the French state back in 2016.

SLN has requested that an independent expert named by a commercial court lead talks with stakeholders, such as shareholders, government authorities and banks, under a temporary procedure, SLN said.

SLN said it would also launch a “drastic reduction of costs” across the company.

Eramet last month lowered its full-year targets for SLN’s nickel production and exports.

($1 = 114.7100 Pacific francs)

(By Gus Trompiz; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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