Conic Metals Corp’s joint venture with Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), Ramu Nickel-Cobalt mine, produced 33,659mt of contained nickel in its mixed hydroxide product (MHP) in 2020, registering a growth of 2.86pc as compared to 32,722 produced in 2019, the company said in its yearly results.
The company said that it again exceeded nameplate capacity and continued strong performance at Ramu at a time when the focus on nickel intermediates for use in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EV) is accelerating.
In the fourth quarter of the year (Oct-Dec, 2020), the company contained nickel output grew by 6pc to 8,373mt from 7,902mt produced in the prior-year period.
The company informed that LME price improved significantly in Q4 2020 to an average of $6.25/lbs as compared to $5.93/lbs in the prior quarter and is currently trading at a range of $8.20-8.50/lbs. This has positively impacting Ramu’s ability to generate free cash and Ramu is benefiting from a secondary effect of improved payability for its MHP.
The company further said that since there are ongoing reports on Vale’s New Caledonian operations being shut down, there is increased tightness in the MHP market. There are only four MHP producers worldwide including Ramu.
The company informed that Ramu is well-positioned to maximize returns for its product as MHP is gaining traction as a raw material of choice for EV battery production and even at 90pc nickel payable, it is still a significant saving compared to current nickel sulfate prices.
All these factors will contribute to the company’s target of repaying the operating portion of the Ramu mine debt in 2021 and achieving positive cash for the company in 2022, it further added.
The Ramu mine is located in Papua New Guinea. Conic Metals Corp is soon going to be renamed Nickel 28 Capital Corp.