The Ravensthorpe nickel mine is making money for owner First Quantum Minerals, with the Canadian miner declaring a gross operational profit of $US42.5 million ($41.3 million).
First Quantum released its full-year results yesterday and said earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation at Ravensthorpe were $US82.4 million, after nickel worth $US387.7 million was sold.
Ravensthorpe, built by BHP Billiton, shut just months after its official opening and was then sold to First Quantum for $US340 million in early 2010, produced 32,884 tonnes of contained nickel last year.
First Quantum listed total costs of production, including depreciation, interest, exploration and royalties of an average $US7.25 a pound in 2012.
Cash costs were $US5.97/lb, well below initial projections of $US6.60 to $US6.80/lb. Average realised nickel prices for the year were $US7.71/lb.
While still profitable, margins in the last half of the year thinned as the nickel price tumbled.
The mine lost money in the September quarter, receiving only $US7.25/lb on total production costs of $US7.84/lb, and eked out a US6Â¢/lb margin in the fourth quarter on total costs of $US7.33/lb.First Quantum said it expected Ravensthorpe to produce 31,000t to 35,000t of nickel this year.
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