Taguig—(PHStocks)—Nickel Asia Corp.’s (PSE: NIKL) estimated value of shipments during the first half of 2017 rose by 41% to PhP7.16 billion from PhP5.08 billion during the same period last year. The increase is mainly due to higher prices for its nickel ore sales combined with higher shipment volumes and a weaker peso exchange rate.
The company sold an aggregate 8.92 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore from its four operating mines during the first half of 2017 compared to 8.54 million WMT achieved the previous year.
The estimated realized nickel price on 4.68 million WMT of ore sales to Japanese and Chinese customers in the first six months of the year averaged $25.88 per WMT compared to an average of $18.24 per WMT on 5.14 million WMT of ore sales realized during the same period last year. It will be recalled that during the first half of last year nickel prices were at much lower levels due to weak demand brought about by an economic slowdown in China.
With respect to low-grade limonite ore sold to both the Coral Bay and Taganito processing plants, which are linked to LME prices, the Company realized an average of $4.40 per pound of payable nickel on 4.24 million WMT sold during the first half of the year. This compares to an average price of $3.92 per pound of payable nickel on 3.40 million WMT sold during the comparable period last year.
On a per mine basis, the company’s Taganito mine accounted for 45% of total shipments during this first half. The mine shipped a total of 1.45 million WMT of saprolite ore and delivered 2.55 million WMT of limonite ore to the Taganito HPAL plant. The comparable figures for last year were 800 thousand WMT of saprolite ore and 2.74 million WMT of limonite ore, including 1.75 million WMT delivered to the Taganito plant.
The Rio Tuba mine accounted for 37% of total shipments, which consisted of 1.42 million WMT of saprolite ore and 1.87 million WMT of limonite ore, including 1.70 million WMT of ore delivered to the Coral Bay HPAL plant. The comparable figures for last year were 1.07 million WMT, 2.08 million WMT and 1.65 million WMT, respectively.
Shipments from the Hinatuan mine amounted to 935 thousand WMT compared to 908 thousand WMT in 2016. The Cagdianao mine, which experienced a late start of its shipment season due to prolonged heavy rainfalls, shipped 702 thousand WMT versus 839 thousand WMT last year.
The realized Peso / U.S. dollar exchange rate for ore sales was PhP49.95 during the first half of the year compared to PhP46.75 in the same period last year.
“We are delighted with our first-half shipment results, despite the challenges we continue to face,” said Gerard H. Brimo, President and CEO of the company. “By focusing our efforts on the shipment of higher-value saprolite ore, the Company benefited from higher ore prices, particularly in the first-quarter. We are also delighted to advise that the Mines & Geosciences Bureau has selected our Rio Tuba operation to represent the Philippines in the first ASEAN Mineral Awards in the category of ‘Best Practices in Mineral Mining’. We look forward to the results, which will be announced in November of this year.”