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New Caledonia allows Société Le Nickel, Société des Mines de la Tontouta to sell nickel to China

New Caledonia allowed Erametsubsidiary Société Le Nickel-SLNand Société des Mines de la Tontouta to sell up to 700,000 tonnes of low-grade nickelore to Chinese buyers over a period of 12 to 18 months, Reuters reported April 6.

The South Pacific French Territory banned the direct sale ofunprocessed ore to large nickel-consuming countries to preserve its local smeltingand refining industry.

However, slumping nickel prices and the potential loss of — which wasplaced under voluntaryadministration in January — as a customer placed pressure on New Caledonia's threesmelters, which cut export revenue for the government.

The three smelters — owned by Glencore Plc, ValeSA and Société Le Nickel — supply 10% of global demand for the stainlesssteel ingredient.