The country’s biggest nickel miner on Monday said that it has achieved the highest volume of ore shipment last year, capping five consecutive years of increase ore sales.
In a statement, Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) said that the total volume of nickel ore sold and delivered from its four operating mines reached 14 million wet metric tons (WMT) in 2013, or 19 percent higher compares to 11.7 million WMT in 2012.
Despite the increase in shipment volume, NAC said that the total estimated value of nickel ore shipments fell by 7 percent to P10.3 billion in 2013 from P11.1 billion reported in 2012, mainly due to a lower realized London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel price.
The realized LME nickel price applicable to 5.2 million WMT of ore shipped in 2013 was at an average of $6.91 per pound of payable nickel as against $8.10 per pound of payable nickel in 2012.
The balance of the shipments, which are mainly the low and medium grade variety ore sold to Chinese customers, were sold on the basis of a negotiated price per WMT of ore at an average of $20.03 per WMT of ore, compared to $24.40 per WMT of ore in 2012.
Rio Tuba, which accounted 41 percent of total volume shipped during the year, shipped and delivered 1.7 million WMT of saprolite ore and 4 million WMT of limonite ore.
The Taganito mine, which is the site of the newly commissioned high pressure acid leaching processes nickel plant, shipped a total of 1.4 million WMT of saprolite ore and 2.5 million WMT of limonite ore, which combined accounted for 28 percent of the company’s total volume.
About 874,000 WMT of limonite ore was shipped to the Taganito plant during the year. The plant was declared in commercial operation in November 2013.
NAC has a 22.5-percent equity interest in the new plant.
The Hinatuan mine shipped a total of 3.4 million WMT of mostly high iron limonite ore, while the Cagdianao mine shipped a total of 350,000 WMT of saprolite ore and 539,000 WMT of limonite ore. The two mines accounted for 25 percent and 6 percent of the company’s full-year volume, respectively.
For the current year, Nickel Asia has executed contracts with various customers for the delivery of 15.3 million WMT of saprolite and limonite ore. This includes about 4.7 million WMT of limonite ore to be delivered to the new Taganito nickel processing plant, as it enters into its first full year of operation.