NICKEL Asia Corporation, the country’s biggest nickel producer, reported a 16-percent drop in the value of nickel ore shipments in the first three months of the year due to lower metal prices in the world market.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Nickel Asia said that its two operating mines sold an aggregate 3.09 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore as of March 2018, slightly higher compared to 3.05 million WMT a year ago.
However, due to weaker ore export prices, the estimated value of shipments dropped to P1.85 billion in January to March this year from P2.21 billion in 2017.
Nickel Asia said the downward pressure on ore export prices was driven by the effect of increasing ore exports from Indonesia coupled with shipments of more lower-grade ore. Indonesia relaxed its ore export ban in January 2017.
“Typically, the Company experiences low shipment volumes during the first quarter of the year since operations at the Taganaan and Cagdianao mines, both
located in northeastern Mindanao, do not commence until the second quarter, the onset of the dry season,” Nickel Asia said.
The company’s Rio Tuba mine delivered 822,000 WMT of saprolite ore and 984,000 WMT of limonite ore to the Coral Bay HPAL (high pressure acid leaching) plant, relatively higher compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the Taganito mine shipped 110,000 WMT of saprolire ore and 1.18 million WMT of limonite ore to the Taganito processing plant. This compares to sales of 156,000 WMT of saprolite ore and 1.04 million WMT of limonite ore deliveries in 2017.
“We are fortunate that this component of our business, as well as the two processing plant where we are invested in, are benefiting from rising LME [London Metal Exchange] nickel prices driven by the bullish outlook on nickel used for the EV [electric vehicle]market,” President and CEO Gerard H. Brimo said.
Nickel is an important ingredient for the batteries used in electric vehicles.