Nickel and cobalt producer Sherritt reduced its 2019 production guidance from its Cuba-based joint venture because of operating setbacks in the third quarter.
The Toronto-based miner expects nickel production from its Moa joint venture in Cuba at 34,000-36,000 metric tonnes (t), down from previous guidance of 40,000-45,000t. Sherritt reduced the cobalt guidance to 2,800-3,000t from 3,500-4,000t.
Sherritt said it expects a shortage of Class 1 nickel in the next couple of years because current market prices are below incentive levels needed to develop new nickel projects. The three-month nickel contract on the London Metals Exchange rose by 40pc during the third quarter to close at $17,350/t on 30 September in reaction to Indonesia bringing forward the scheduled effective date of a nickel ore export ban by two years. The ban will now take effect on 1 January 2020.
Moa produced 4,139t of nickel in the third quarter, down by 7pc from the third quarter of 2018, and 436t of cobalt, which was 6pc lower from a year prior. Through the first nine months of the year, Moa produced 12,505t of nickel, which was up by 13pc from the same period a year earlier, and 1,189t of cobalt, which was up by 7pc.
Drilling in block 10 at Moa resumed on 19 October following the import of drilling mud tanks due to the lack of availability in Cuba.
The company owns half of the Moa joint-venture, which includes the nickel/cobalt mine in Cuba and refinery in Saskatchewan, Canada. It also has a 12pc interest in the Ambatovy joint-venture in Madagascar.
The miner expects a combined total nickel output of 65,000-69,000t at its two nickel facilities, down by 6,000-9,000t from its latest outlook. Cobalt production guidance was down between 700-1,000t to between 6,100-6,600t on a 100pc basis.
For the first half of the year, total combined nickel production at the mines was 50,260t, and cobalt production was 4,712t.
The share of nickel production from Ambatovy attributed to Sherritt was up by 19pc to 1,087t in the third quarter from a year earlier. Cobalt production was up by 2pc to 90t.
Revenues for the third quarter fell by 16pc to $133.9mn. The company lost $30mn in the quarter, compared to a loss of $13.3mn the prior year. It attributed the loss to lower cobalt prices.