New Caledonia: achieving greater dialogue and community support

SLN, an Eramet subsidiary, has been in New Caledonia since the nineteenth century, and works actively to promote the region's development. Having embarked on a major transformation, the company has been looking for ways to strengthen its dialogue with local communities.

Building community dialogue: a key issue

As it undergoes a major economic transformation, SLN has made substantial efforts over the past few years to improve relations with interested parties, with the goal of increasing the number of discussions and acknowledging the concerns of local bodies and communities more effectively. 

To that end, in 2017 and 2018, SLN employees met with nearly 500 people, including municipal leaders and traditional leaders, women, and young people. The discussions, which were designed to yield greater insight into their perceptions of the company and their expectations, led to a thorough re-examination of the company's relations with external stakeholders. 

To achieve smoother, ongoing discussions, a Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Department was created, with a team of Interested Parties Managers (IPMs) in charge of maintaining community dialogue. A community relations office was also opened in Koné, the capital of the Nord Province, in order to establish closer ties with the region's communities. 

The department has been given two strategic objectives: first, to structure relations with local bodies and communities around issues that involve the company; and second, to ramp up the company's contributions to community well-being. 

Contributing to the region's development

Nearly 2,150 employees, 8,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs... These figures, which relate to the company's direct activities in 2020, convey only some of the contributions the Group has made to the region's development.

  • 5 billion CFP francs: estimate of monthly economic benefits in the Caledonian economy

In addition to the direct and indirect economic benefits it creates through jobs and sub-contracting, SLN also works tirelessly to diversify the country's economy beyond nickel extraction, in partnership with local municipalities and micro-credit institutions.

  • 120 economic projects supported, including via micro-credit, in collaboration with partner associations (ADIE, Initiative NC, etc.).

As part of its sponsorship program, Le Nickel-SLN, the company also supports numerous projects every year, in five key areas: social action, the environment, sports, culture, and science & learning. 

The company's social initiatives, which include contributions to infrastructure development, have helped the country build bridges, supply drinking water, and develop social and educational programs. These programs are developed under multi-party agreements between SLN, local communities, mining towns, and their associated provinces.

« Les nickels de l’initiative », a sponsorship program

This sponsorship program, launched by SLN in 1992, is an annual competition open to associations, clubs, and individuals. To be eligible, proposals must meet specific criteria: they must be sustainable, innovative, non-profit, and carried out in New Caledonia, for New Caledonians. Over the course of the first 29 competitions, more than 300 projects have won a combined 130 million CFP francs in donations.

Within the framework of multiannual commitments, SLN provides financial support to local authorities in their development projects. SLN thus contributed in 2020 to the financing of drinking water supply projects in Poum and Koumac, of works to expand the port in the municipality of Koumac as part of the revitalization of the economy of the sea and the revival of the deep-sea fishing industry, and of road works in Pouembout and Thio. Near the Poro site, SLN has renewed its support for financing the innovative Reprise project, led by the town hall of Houaïlou in collaboration with the NGO Conservation International. This program aims to restore forests in this municipality, in particular through reforestation and the regulation of invasive species. Winner of the ADEME "pilot sites for the reconquest of biodiversity" call for projects, a part of the Future Investment Program, the project is based on very close collaboration with the 16 tribes present in this area. At the end of 2020, 13 hectares had already been reforested (out of a target of 30 hectares), and 15 hectares fenced in and protected from invasive species (out of a target of 20 hectares). The SLN also works alongside numerous associations in the region, with 49 agreements signed in 2020 in the fields of culture, sports, education, and professional integration. The latter includes associations helping young people to obtain their driver's license, which in some areas represents a real passport to employment. In addition, for the 28th Nickels de l'Initiative awards, SLN chose to support the promoters of cultural projects, whose sector has been severely affected by the health crisis. The competition panel (made up of personalities from the institutional, associative and artistic fields, represented throughout the country) selected 13 projects, which received financial assistance. 

SLN also attaches increasing importance to supporting the economic diversification of the areas in which it operates. In particular, it provides financial support to ADIE (Association for the Development of Economic Initiative), of which it has been a partner for twenty years. This association offers microcredit and support services to micro-entrepreneurs. Through its contribution to the Initiatives Nouvelle-Calédonie association, SLN also participates in the creation and development of long-lasting businesses that generate added value and jobs. During 2020, more than 100 project leaders were supported in the sectors of organic farming, livestock, tourism, crafts, fishing, and local commerce.