Nickel Asia income dips 37% despite rise in sales

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Publicly listed Nickel Asia Corp. posted a 37-percent decline in its attributable net income last year to P2.2 billion, from the P3.54 billion it registered in 2011, due to weaker nickel prices in the global market and a stronger peso.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange Friday, Nickel Asia said its revenue likewise fell by 9 percent to P11.61 billion in 2012 from the P12.69 billion of the previous year.

The decline came about despite the 13-percent increase in the volume of ore the company shipped out last year. Last year’s shipment totaled 11.73 million wet metric tons (WMT) from the 10.39 million WMT of 2011.

“Despite weak market conditions for commodities in general, our company has again managed to deliver record shipments last year,” said Nickel Asia president and CEO Gerard H. Brimo.

Given the increase in shipment volumes, total operating costs and expenses rose to P7.57 billion in 2012 from P6.26 billion in 2011. On a per WMT of ore sold, total costs and expenses increased by 7 percent to P646 per WMT.

Also, Nickel Asia reported that the construction of the country’s second hydrometallurgical nickel processing plant is now almost complete.

The processing facility, which is located next to Nickel Asia’s 65-percent owned Taganito mining operation in Surigao del Norte, is expected to be commissioned soon. Commercial operations may begin by the end of 2013, it added.

The Taganito mine is expected to deliver roughly 1.8 million WMT of limonite ore to the new processing plant within the year. This volume will increase to about 4.5 million WMT by 2014, the first full year of the plant’s operations, the company further reported.

“We have made a substantial investment of P4.4 billion for a 22.5-percent equity interest in this project and we are looking forward to the start of operations,” Brimo said. Amy R. Remo

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