Despite higher volume of shipments, the country’s biggest nickel producer on Thursday reported an 18-percent drop in the value of nickel ore shipments in the first nine months of the year because of lower metal prices in the world market.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) said that its four operating mines sold an aggregate 10.32 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore as of September 2013, or 9 percent higher compared to 9.56 million WMT a year ago.
However, due to the lower nickel prices during the period, the estimated value of nickel ore shipments dropped to P7.67 billion in January to September 2013, from P9.32 billion during the same period last year.
“While we have been hit by weak commodity prices for the most part of the year, we are still fortunate that demand for our various ore products remain high while commercial operations of the new Taganito plant will start soon,” said Gerard Brimo, NAC president and chief executive.
He added that the Taganito high pressure acid leach (HPAL) facility, which is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2013, will require over 4.5 million WMT of limonite ore per year, which will be supplied by the adjacent Taganito mine. The plant is expected to operate at 30,000 metric ton (MT) capacity of contained nickel and 2,600 MT of contained cobalt per year in the form of mixed sulfide products starting 2014.
“We can therefore look forward to further growth of our ore sales next year,” the executive said.
During the first three quarters of 2013, the company’s Rio Tuba mine accounted for 43 percent of the total shipment volume, delivering 1.34 million WMT of saprolite ore and 3.13 million WMT of limonite ore—of which 2.54 million WMT represents ore deliveries to the Coral Bay HPAL plant.
Taganito mine shipped a total of 1.15 million WMT of saprolire ore and 1.34 million WMT of limonite ore, including the initial delivery of 272,000 WMT of limonite ore to the company’s newly commissioned HPAL nickel processing plant.
NAC said that increasing ore deliveries to the Taganito HPAL facility on a monthly basis is expected until such time full commercial operations commences towards the latter part of the year.
The Hinatuan mine managed to ship a total of 2.69 million WMT of mostly limonite ore of the high iron variety, while the Cagdianao mine shipped a total of 240,000 WMT of saprolite ore and 435,000 WMT of limonite ore.