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BNC smelter project in limbo

Nickel sales tonnage down 14 percent

 By Business Reporter

HARARE (Mining Index) – THE future of Bindura Nickel Corporation’s (BNC) smelter project remains uncertain as the company is failing to secure adequate funding to complete the scheme owing to continued lower nickel prices obtaining on the global market.

Earlier this year, the nickel producer indicated it was scouting for investors to help complete refurbishment of its smelter project.

Presenting half year results for year ended 30 September 2018, BNC Managing Director Batirai Manhando said the smelter project is still work in progress. “Upgrade and refurbishment of the Smelter Project remains at 83% to completion.”

“Your Board is of the view that for as long as the nickel market fundamentals have not driven the price to significantly higher levels than where it has been on a year on year basis, it will not make economic sense to continue injecting more capital into this project,” he added.

LME Nickel price trends Since 2014 (the issuing period)

Nickel prices that obtained during the period under review, though better than the previous period, were not high enough to change the circumstances under which the project can be resumed.

Manhando revealed that current nickel prices, power tariffs and available feed levels are some of the major setbacks BNC is facing hindering completion of the smelter project, hence the decision to put it on hold until favourable conditions prevail in the country.

“Stakeholders are assured that as soon as price fundamentals have improved significantly enough, the Board will ensure that the Project is completed,” said Manhando.

Manhando revealed nickel sales tonnage decreased 14 percent to 2 980 tonnes down from 3 485 tonnes the previous year.

Nickel production at Trojan was also down 11 percent year on year to 3,076 tonnes. Tonnes milled were down from 440 600 tonnes for year ending 2017, relative to 390 200 in 2018.

“Head grade decreased to 1.70 percent from 2.19 percent as we continue with the sustainable blending of high grade and low grade ores,” said Manhando.

He said BNC revenue increased by 9% to US$26.2 million from S$24.1 million in the previous year.

40 percent improvement was experienced in the achieved average nickel price received per tonne to $9,001 per tonne up from $6,422. ENDS//

 

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