NICKEL Asia Corp. (NAC), the country’s biggest nickel producer, said that the estimated value of its shipments in the first quarter of this year surged 47 percent from the previous year to P2.19 billion on higher ore prices coupled with a weaker exchange rate.
NAC told the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Tuesday that it sold an aggregate 3.05 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore from its Taganito and Rio Tuba mines during the first quarter against the 3.49 million WMT in the previous year.
“Ore export prices have held up very well during the first quarter, brought about mainly by low levels of nickel ore inventory in China,” said Gerard Brimo, president and CEO of the NAC.
“Despite news on the partial reversal of Indonesia’s ore export ban, we are confident nickel ore prices will remain firm this year mainly due to an improved outlook globally and specifically for the Chinese economy,” Brimo added.
NAC said its Rio Tuba mine produced 908,000 WMT of saprolite ore and delivered 950,000 WMT of limonite ore to the Coral Bay processing plant in 2016. This compares to sales of 594,000 WMT of saprolite ore and 1.37 million WMT of limonite ore during the same period last year.
It said the Taganito mine exported 156,000 of saprolite ore and delivered 1.04 million WMT of limonite ore to the Taganito processing plant, as compared to of 151,000 WMT saprolite ore and 1.38 million WMT limonite ore recorded in the previous year.
NAC said the estimated realized nickel price on 1.06 million WMT ore exports in the first quarter averaged $31.34 per WMT, much higher than the average $15.78/WMT on 1.45 million WMT sold in the same period in 2016.
Nickel prices hit a 13-year low during the first quarter of last year, mainly due to an economic slowdown in China.
The estimated realized price of limonite ore sold to the two processing plants, which are linked to London Metal Exchange (LME) prices, was at an average of $4.64 per pound of payable nickel on 1.99 million WMT sold in the first quarter, compared to $3.87 per pound of payable nickel on 2.04 million WMT sold during the same period last year.
The realized peso/dollar exchange rate for ore sales was P50.05 during in the first quarter this year compared to P47.12 in the same period last year.
With report from ANGELICA BALLESTEROS