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Nickel Asia posts 12% profit rise to nearly P7B 

LISTED mining firm Nickel Asia Corp. posted a 12% increase in its nine-month attributable net income to P6.90 billion on the back of higher ore prices.

In a stock exchange disclosure on Thursday, the mining firm said revenues increased by 2% to P21.51 billion from P21.03 billion due to favorable exchange rates and higher nickel ore prices. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached P11.10 billion, slightly higher than P11.01 billion last year.

“Despite the challenges in our mining operations due to adverse weather conditions at our mine sites, the favorable London Metal Exchange nickel price and strong US dollar helped drive revenues up by 2% from the prior year,” Nickel Asia President and Chief Executive Officer Martin Antonio G. Zamora said.

Ore sales volume from five operating mines declined 14% during the period to a combined 12.44 million wet metric tons (WMT) from 14.44 million WMT last year.

“The drop in sales volume was almost in direct proportion to unrealized workable days caused by unfavorable weather that adversely affected the company’s mining operations during the period,” Nickel Asia said.

For the nine-month period, Nickel Asia said that the weighted average nickel ore sales price increased by 5% to $29.46 per WMT compared to $28.05 per WMT.

“The company realized P54.22 per US dollar from these nickel ore sales, a 10% increase from P49.17 last year,” the firm said.

Broken down, Nickel Asia exported 6.68 million WMT of saprolite and limonite ore at an average price of $38.87 per WMT for the period, lower than the 8.72 million WMT at $38.88 per WMT last year.

The company also sent 5.76 million WMT of limonite ore to its Coral Bay and Taganito high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) plants, which had an average price of $11.66 per pound of payable nickel, higher than the 5.72 million WMT at $8.20 per pound last year.

The nine-month average price of the deliveries to the HPAL plants was also higher at $18.55 versus $11.54 in 2021.

Separately, Nickel Asia’s renewable energy unit Emerging Power, Inc. (EPI) posted a 60% improvement in revenues to P393.67 million, while its EBITDA also climbed by 51% to P239.50 million.

EPI’s improved performance came from a 56% year-on-year increase in the generation capacity of its operating arm Jobin-SQM, Inc. (JSI) to 79,022 megawatt-hours (MWh) after the completion of its 38-MW expansion in June, bringing its total capacity to 100 MW.

Power sales of JSI’s Sta. Rita plant had an average realized tariff of P4.98 per kilowatt-hour. Of the plant’s power generation, 70% was sold to retail electricity suppliers via power supply agreements while 30% was sold to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

“JSI logged a net income of P72.83 million, allowing EPI to trim its losses to P133 million from the same period last year, a 53% reduction thanks to higher economies of scale and improved market conditions,” Nickel Asia said.

It said that the construction of EPI’s additional 68 MW in Subic is expected to go online by the last quarter of 2023.

Recently, EPI entered into a joint venture agreement with Shell Overseas Investments B.V. for the creation of a platform to own, operate, and maintain utility-scale onshore solar and wind power generation projects and battery energy storages in the country.

The venture, with equity ownership of 60% EPI and 40% Shell via a newly formed company Greenlight Renewables Holdings, Inc., targets to have an aggregate operating capacity of 1,000 MW by 2028.

According to Nickel Asia, the joint venture is also an avenue to explore synergies with retail electricity supplier Shell Energy Philippines, Inc. in a bid to provide integrated value to customers.

Meanwhile, Nickel Asia said in a separate disclosure that its board of directors approved to guarantee the P2-billion loan facility to be obtained by EPI.

The mining firm disclosed that EPI would get the loan from Security Bank Corp.

“The proceeds of the loan will be used to finance the Phase 4A, 68-MW Subic solar power plant expansion of EPI’s solar power subsidiary, JSI,” Nickel Asia said.

Nickel Asia also mentioned that its board approved the renewal of promissory notes issued by JSI amounting to P1.095 billion. The notes were for Nickel Asia’s advances used by JSI for Phase 3B of its solar power plant expansion project last year.

On Thursday, shares of Nickel Asia rose 17 centavos or 3.28% to end at P5.36 apiece. — Revin Mikhael Ochave

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