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SYDNEY, March 14 (Reuters) - New Caledonia will remove restrictions on the sale of nickel ore to China, according to a report in the Australian newspaper that cited no sources.
The move frees miners in the French territory from having to rely on Queensland Nickel (QNI), one of Australia's biggest nickel refineries, which was recently put into voluntary administration.
New Caledonia has long resisted selling ore directly to large consuming countries such as China, to preserve its domestic smelting and refining industry, a main source of revenue for the South Pacific French Territory.
But a steady decline in nickel prices is putting pressure on New Caledonia's three smelters, owned by Glencore , Vale and Eramet subsidiary Societe Le Nickel, cutting export revenue for the government.
Combined, the three smelters supply 10 percent of world demand. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Larry King)