NICKEL Asia Corp. (NAC), the country’s biggest nickel producer, more than tripled its earnings in the first quarter of the year on the back of higher ore shipments.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, NAC on Tuesday said its net income reached P1.037 billion in the January-March period, or a 207 percent increase from the P339.3 million recorded a year ago.
Revenue in the first three months of 2015 increased to P3.12 billion from P1.70 billion last year due to higher sales volumes and prices.
It can be recalled that nickel prices last year were at fairly low levels during the early part, and only started trending upward toward the second quarter.
The company sold an aggregate 3.49 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore in the quarter ending March 31, as compared to 2.65 million WMT in the same period last year.
The 32 percent surge in ore shipments was due to increases from all four mines of the company. The Taganaan and Cagdianao mines, which typically do not have shipments during this time of the year, managed to ship 160,000 WMT and 50,000 WMT of nickel ore, respectively, as a result of a shorter rainy season in the south of the country. Both mines are located in Surigao del Norte.
Of the total volume of ore sold, deliveries to the two HPAL (high-pressure acid leach) plants reached 1.99 million WMT during the first three months of 2015 compared to 1.80 million WMT during the same period last year.
Shipments of ore to China also increased from 278,000 WMT to 1.08 million WMT, while ore shipments to Japan amounted to 313,000 WMT compared to 566,000 WMT in 2014. An additional 111,000 WMT of ore was also shipped to Australia during the first quarter of the year.
In terms of prices, with respect to sales of the HPAL plants, the pricing of which remains linked to the London Metal Exchange, the company realized an average of $6.50 per pound of payable nickel during the first three months of the year as against $6.68 per pound of payable nickel during the same period last year.
With respect to export sales, the company achieved an average price of $32.44 per WMT, much higher compared to the $21.98 realized last year.
“We started the year on a high note with a big jump in shipments during the first quarter,” said Gerard Brimo, NAC president and chief executive officer.
“Following the momentum established in the first three months, overall shipment volumes should be stronger this year,” Brimo added.
In a related development, NAC said its board approved the acquisition of Geogen Corporation for P720 million and 10 percent of NiHao Mineral Resources International Inc for P4 a share.
Geogen holds a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement over the Isabela Nickel Project in the town of Dinapigue.