| Lower output puts strain on nickel producer Western Areas|
24th August 2021
By: Esmarie Iannucci
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia
PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Nickel miner Western Areas on Tuesday reported lower earnings for the 2021 financial year ended June, on the back of decreased nickel production.
Nickel production for the full year was down to 16 180 t, from the 20 926 t reported in the previous financial year, with sales volumes declining from 19 857 t to 15 509 t in the same period, resulting in revenues for the full year declining from A$308.3-million to A$257.1-million.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the year declined from A$121.8-million to A$73.5-million, with Western Areas reporting a net loss after tax of A$7.7-million, compared with a net profit after tax of A$31.8-million in the previous corresponding period.
The company told shareholders that the 2021 financial year marked the transition towards production from the long-life Odysseus mine, at Cosmos, which was on track to produce its first ore in the first quarter of the 2022 financial year.
However, operations at Forrestania were impacted by unplanned geotechnical and geological challenges being encountered at the Flying Fox mine and its Spotted Quoll mine respectively. However, Western Areas noted that the Forrestania mining team was able to reset the mine plan and deliver a much improved second half of the financial year, delivering into the updated production and cost guidance range.
“I am proud of the professional and resilient performance of the technical team, which successfully overcame the mine production difficulties encountered in the first half to enable the improved second half production and costs performance,” said Western Areas MD Dan Lougher.
“Ultimately it was this turnaround that allowed us to deliver into updated guidance for 2021.
“At Odysseus, our new long life mine continues to advance towards production of first ore in this September quarter, which will mark a very significant milestone in its expected 10-plus-year mine life. Odysseus remains one of the few long-dated supplies of nickel sulphide to enter the market in the coming years, just as the electric vehicle (EV) market continues to drive nickel demand for delivery into the EV battery supply chain.”
Looking at the 2022 financial year, Western Areas is expecting to produce between 16 000 t and 17 000 t of nickel in concentrate, with cash costs of production estimated at between A$4.25/lb and A$4.65/lb.
Western Areas earlier this month flagged preliminary discussions with fellow listed Independence Group (IGO) in relation to a change of control proposal, after IGO earlier made it clear that it was still open to nickel, copper and cobalt acquisitions.