MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer, has announced preliminary consolidated production results for the first quarter of 2014.
The company said consolidated nickel production declined 5.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 67.8 thousand tones. The decline was blamed on lower production volumes at Kola MMC; lower production volumes at Tati Nickel and the mothballing of Lake Johnston operations in Australia.
Its consolidated copper production in 1Q 2014 was 90.4 thousand tonnes down 0.7% (or 0.6 thousand tonnes) which is fully in line with the Company’s production guidance while in the reporting period, the company produced 610 thousand troy ounces of palladium, representing a y-o-y increase of 3.8%.
On the other hand, platinum output reached 150 thousand troy ounces, up 6.9% y-o-y. The increase in production volumes was driven by the release of work-in-progress inventory in Russia and higher sales of copper cake containing PGMs to third parties by Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta.
In 1Q 2014, the combined nickel output of our Russian operations at the Polar and the Kola divisions decreased 1.4% y-o-y to 55.7 thousand tonnes. The decrease was mainly driven by decreased nickel output at Kola MMC due to lower processing volumes of high-grade nickel matte shipped from the Polar Division due to scheduled repairs of one of the furnaces at Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant and decreased tolling operations volumes as a result of a delivery stoppage of raw materials from Fortaleza.
Copper production in 1Q 2014 was almost flat y-o-y at 88.9 thousand tonnes.
In 1Q 2014, the Company’s Russian operations both in palladium and platinum increased (up 4.5% and 6.3% respectively) to 597 thousand troy ounces and 146 thousand troy ounces respectively. The increase in production volumes compared to 1Q 2013 was driven by the release of work-in-progress inventory.
Norilsk Nickel Finland
In 1Q 2014, the Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta refinery in Finland produced 11.2 thousand tonnes of nickel which is in line with production results for the same period in 2013. The 1Q 2014 output of copper increased 88.1% y-o-y to 0.8 thousand tonnes due to the growth in sales of copper cake to third parties.
Harjavalta produced 7.3 thousand troy ounces of saleable palladium (palladium in copper cake) in 1Q 2014, while the production of saleable platinum (platinum in copper cake) in the period was 3.4 thousand troy ounces, higher than for the same period in 2013.
Norilsk Nickel Africa
In 1Q 2014, Tati Nickel produced 1.7 thousand tonnes of nickel in concentrate, down 20.9% y-o-y. The decrease was attributed to lower metal grades in the mined ore. Also, according to the agreement as of August 2013, 50% of nickel semis produced from Tati’s concentrate was shipped to Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta and the other 50% to GlencoreXtrata, while previously all concentrate was sold to third parties.
The production of nickel in concentrate by Nkomati (reported on a 50% basis) in 1Q 2014 was 3.1 thousand tonnes, up 15.3% y-o-y. The growth in nickel production for the period was attributed to increase of ore output, increase of nickel content in ore; and successful implementation of optimisation programmes at enrichment facilities.
Norilsk Nickel Australia
In 2Q 2013, the Lake Johnston mine was put on care and maintenance as part of the cost control measures implemented by the Company’s new management.