Listed miner, Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC), has struck a cautious tone saying production and profitability will likely decline in the current quarter (Q4) due to planned production stoppage at Trojan Mine to facilitate shaft “re-deepening” at the mine.
The resurgence of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic is also likely to significantly impact the miner’s production, the miner said, despite reporting a strong performance in the three months to December 2020.
“The company is not anticipating an improved operational and financial performance for the quarter ending 31 March 2021 due to a planned short production stoppage that is intended to facilitate the Trojan Shaft Re-deepening tie-in Project,” BNC company secretary, Conrad Mukanganga said.
“Other bearish factors include reductions in Chinese stimulus funding and government subsidies in 2021, the resurgence of Covid-19 cases which could usher in the return of the economically damaging lockdowns, leading to lower investor confidence.”
However, after the completion of the re-deepening project, the miner expects to ramp up more than 60 000 tonnes of ore per month, particularly in respect of the mining of disseminated ore.
Mukanganga said the company’s operational and financial performance is expected to improve after the completion of the re-deepening project.
Production at BNC increased 9% to 116 525 tonnes in Q3 from 107 036 tonnes during same period in 2019 as the mine recovered from the effects of the slowdown induced by the Covid-19 lockdown in April and May 2020.
Tonnes milled increased 9% when compared to the corresponding period last year.
There was 1% increase in the production of nickel in concentrate to 1,474 tonnes from the output achieved in the same period last year.
BNC sold 1, 864 tonnes of nickel in concentrate in the quarter under review, which was 20% higher than the sales tonnage achieved during a comparative period last year.
This has coincided with the increases of nickel prices on the international market which rose by 4% during the period.
Mukanganga said: “The confidence in the recently elected Joe Biden administration in the USA, the approval and subsequent roll-out of the Covid—19 vaccine, as well as the sizeable growth in the Chinese stainless steel and electric vehicle sales were contributory factors towards good performance.”
The company faced a formidable threat to health and safety due to the burgeoning number of Covid-19 cases nationally and internationally.
In response to this emergency, BNC has stepped up measures to combat the effects of the pandemic by screening of people by temperature measuring and sanitisation at key entry points to workplaces; preliminary Rapid Diagnostic Test Antigen testing on index cases and contact tracing to understand the virus burden on the mine and community.
Fumigating of the workplace three to four times a week and holding of virtual meetings are now the company’s new normal to avoid contact.