In New Caledonia, Vale sells its mining complex


The signing of the agreement to sell the Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie mining complex on Wednesday, March 31, puts an end to several months of blockages and violence which may have raised fears that the territory of the Pacific may fall into a new cycle of violence. clashes. With the approach of a third referendum on the independence of New Caledonia, which should take place no later than September 2022, marking the end of the Nouméa agreement, the future of this metallurgical factory backed by the wealthy The Goro nickel deposit in the southern province was a prerequisite for the resumption of discussions on the political process.

On March 4, the main Caledonian players announced the conclusion of a “political agreement” between, on the one hand, the president of the southern province, Sonia Backès, and Les Loyalistes and, on the other hand, the National Liberation Front. Kanak and socialist, the collective “Usine du Sud = factory pays” and the Indigenous Customary Negotiating Body (ICAN). This time, it is indeed the industrial and commercial agreement which should allow the short-term resumption of activity on the mining complex.

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“This sale will ensure the sustainability of the company, central to the Caledonian economy with its more than 1,200 employees and nearly 1,300 subcontracted jobs today and 1,900 planned for 2022”, welcome, in a joint statement, the ministers of the economy, Bruno Le Maire, and overseas, Sébastien Lecornu. The final agreement is signed by the Brazilian group Vale, which had decided to separate from its Caledonian unit, and the buyers, namely the consortium Prony Resources and the Swiss commodity trader Trafigura. It is also based on a technical and commercial partnership with the American electric automobile giant Tesla, which guarantees an outlet for the production of NHC nickel, combining nickel and cobalt, on the growing market for electric batteries.

Decisive environmental aspect

The capital of the new company will be held at 51% by the Caledonian communities: namely 30% by the Société de participation minière du Sud Calédonien, bringing together the three Caledonian provinces, which increases from 5% of the capital of Vale NC to 30% in the new entity, and 21% by a provisional fiduciary structure which will gradually transfer its securities, for 12%, to a company mutual fund (FCPE) held by employees and, for 9%, to a structure held by local customary actors in the preservation of the environment. The remaining 49% is divided between Trafigura, up to 19%, and the Prony Financial Company, bringing together the management of the company and a New Zealand investment fund, Agio, for 30%.

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