NICKEL Asia Corporation, the country’s top nickel miner, posted core net income of P2.77 billion in 2017, up 41 percent from the previous year as higher prices offset lower output.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Wednesday, Nickel Asia said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to P7 billion compared to P5.71 billion in the prior year.
Nickel Asia said net income in 2017 was inclusive of a P198 million share of equity in net income from investment in both the Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation and in Coral Bay Nickel Corporation, a turnaround from the equity loss of P413.7 million reported in 2016.
For 2017, the company sold an aggregate 17.7 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore versus19.3 million WMT in the previous year.
“The drop in shipment volumes was mainly the result of a prolonged rainy season in the south of the country, where three of the Company’s mines are located, and a change in the ore mix to higher value ore,” it said.
Despite the drop, revenues rose 11.4 percent to P15.74 billion from P14.12 billion in 2016 due to higher prices for its ore products coupled with the change in the ore mix and a more favorable peso to US dollar exchange rate.
On a combined basis, the company said the average price received for sales of both saprolite and limonite ore in 2017 was $16.17 per WMT, 11 percent higher than the prior year’s $14.51 per WMT.
Of the total volume of ore shipped, 9.0 million WMT was saprolite ore and 8.7 million WMT was limonite ore. This compares to 7.4 million WMT of saprolite ore and 11.9 million WMT of limonite ore in 2016.
“Despite the relaxation of Indonesia’s ore export ban in 2017, we saw nickel prices improving, mainly on the back of stronger demand and a second year of a global supply deficit,” Nickel Asia President and CEO Gerard H. Brimo said.
He said Nickel Asia anticipates continuing strong demand for the metal, in part due to the growth taking place in the battery sector.
“We note as well decreasing inventory levels for refined nickel in various commodity markets, an indication of continuing supply deficit, which should provide strong support to prices”, Brimo added.