Nickel Asia Corp. said the total volume of nickel ore shipments from its four operating mines increased by more than a fourth last year on the back of higher metal prices and stronger ore production.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, NAC said that total ore shipped and delivered to smelters reached 17.9 million wet metric tons (WMT) in 2014, up by 28 percent from 14 million WMT in 2013.
The record volume of ore sales achieved combined with much improved ore prices led to a 130-percent surge in the estimated value of shipments, or from P10.3 billion in 2013 to P23.7 billion in 2014, the company said.
“We are extremely satisfied with our achievements in 2014. We were able to surpass our sales targets and capitalize on the strong prices which prevailed for most part of the year,” said Gerard Brimo, NAC president and chief executive.
The effect of the Indonesian ore export ban has led to significantly higher ore prices in 2014.
NAC also attributed the growth in shipment volumes last year to the increased ore deliveries to the high-pressure acid leachate (HPAL) plants —particularly to the Taganito HPAL facility during its first full year of commercial operations.
As a result, total ore deliveries to the two HPAL plants reached 7.41 million WMT in 2014 compared to 4.28 million WMT in 2013. Direct exports of ore also showed strong results, with shipments increasing from 9.72 million WMT in 2013 to 10.47 million WMT in 2014.
On a per mine basis, the company’s Taganito mine, which is now the largest in operation, accounted for 40 percent of total shipments. The mine shipped a total of 2.27 million WMT of saprolite ore and 4.82 million WMT of limonite ore, including 4.02 million WMT of limonite to the new plant.
The Rio Tuba mine accounted for 33 percent of total shipments, shipping 2.27 million WMT of saprolite ore and 3.70 million WMT of limonite ore, including 3.38 million WMT to the adjacent Coral Bay plant.
The company’s Hinatuan mine achieved total shipments of 3.15 million WMT of limonite ore and 314,000 WMT of saprolite ore, while the Cagdianao mine shipped a total of 461,000 WMT of limonite ore and 890,000 WMT of saprolite ore.
The average realized price received for ore sales to Japanese and Chinese customers—totaling 10.47 million WMT of both saprolite and limonite ore sold —amounted to $45.11. This compares to an average price of $21.28 per WMT for the same period the previous year on a total of 9.72 million WMT of ore sold.
With respect to low-grade limonite ore sold to both the Coral Bay and Taganito plants, which continues to be linked to London Metals Exchange (LME) prices, Nickel Asia realized an average of $7.69 per pound of payable nickel on 7.41 million WMT sold in 2014. This compares to an average price of $6.70 per pound of payable nickel on 5.34 million WMT sold in 2013.