NICKEL ASIA Corp. on Friday reported an attributable first-quarter net loss of P89 million, reversing last year’s profit of P138 million, as the pandemic hit the listed mining company’s investments.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, it said the net loss during the quarter was mainly because of the P261-million mark-to-market loss from its portfolio investments as the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) “profoundly affected markets globally.”

“The said loss translates to a negative 5.6% overall return on the portfolio’s performance,” Nickel Asia said.

Nickel Asia also reported a consolidated net loss of P10 million from its equity investments in Coral Bay Nickel Corp. and Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. The figure is slightly lower than the P25-million loss in the same quarter last year.

Nickel Asia President Martin Antonio G. Zamora said: “We remain cautious for the rest of the year owing to the uncertainties prevailing in markets globally.”

The company reported that it had sold an aggregate 2.78 million wet metric tons (MT) of nickel ore for the first quarter, lower than the 2.89 million wet MT ore sold in the previous year.

Nickel Asia said it had realized an average price of $5.80 per pound of payable nickel on its shipment of ore to the two HPAL (high pressure acid leach) plants, the prices of which are linked to the London Metal Exchange.

“This compares to an average price of $5.56 per pound of payable nickel sold in 2019,” it added.

Ore exports sales achieved an average price of $28.58 per wet MT, higher than $19.71 last year.

Revenues rose by 11% to P2.21 billion because of the impact of higher ore prices during the first quarter.

The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 21% to P804 million.

Mr. Zamora said if the mark-to-market loss was stripped out from the company’s portfolio investments while taking out the challenges brought by COVID-19, earnings from operations “actually improved year-on-year as evidenced by a higher EBITDA.”

The company also said its Taganito and Taganaan mines have resumed operations this month, after almost one month of voluntary suspension.

On Friday, Nickel Asia shares were unchanged at P1.54 each. — R. M. D. Ochave