Overseas-owned water bottling company Cloud Ocean Water has stopped production and will mothball its two production lines, amid disappointing sales into China.
Nearly 130 jobs could go as a result.
The company had consent to extract more than one-and-a-half billion litres of water each year, and in February was looking to open a second, similarly sized bottling plant.
Its director, Feng Liang, said sales into China, their main market, have been disappointing and will come under further pressure during the northern hemisphere’s winter.
And Liang said fast growth has put pressure on the company’s working capital.
The company set up in Belfast in 2017 has faced court cases, consenting dramas, employment welfare scrutiny and staunch opposition from locals.
In May it was fined $750 and served two abatement notices after the Canterbury Regional Council discovered plastic beads on land surrounding its site and waste and wash water in the nearby Kāpūtahi Creek.
Liang said a plan presented to staff today proposes pausing production, and reducing staff numbers from 160 to 35.
A final decision will be made at the end of the month.