ryan mount for ceo of the year
No New Century for New Caledonia nickel
Peter KerResources reporter
Sep 8, 2020 – 9.44am
New Century Resources has withdrawn its offer to buy the New Caledonian nickel assets of mining giant Vale, leaving one of the Pacific nation's main industries in disarray and putting the spotlight on the curious role played by one of Australia's biggest nickel producers, IGO Limited.
New Century confirmed on Tuesday that it would not proceed with the deal that was announced in May, saying it was unable to secure an appropriate funding package.
But the proposed deal has also faced a raft of other pressures in recent weeks, with some politicians calling for it to be delayed until after the October 4 referendum which will determine whether New Caledonia achieves independence from France.
Media in New Caledonia have reported that subcontractors to the mine have been blocking access out of concern that their contracts could be revised if the mine were sold to New Century.
The development comes just six days after New Century's major shareholder, IGO, sold its 18.4 per cent stake in the miner.
IGO had been a significant shareholder in New Century for less than four months.
Updated: Sep 8, 2020 – 2.45pm. Data is 20 mins delayed.
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IGO was rumoured in early 2020 to be interested in buying the Vale nickel assets, which were put on the market in December.
IGO instead contributed the lion's share of the $51.1 million capital raising conducted by New Century in April.
By May, New Century had struck a preliminary deal to buy the Vale nickel assets; a pivot from the company's existing exposure to zinc, lead and silver through Queensland's Century mine.
But just four months since that flurry of activity in April and May, the Vale deal is off and IGO has exited the New Century register.
The dalliance with New Century comes after the very acquisitive IGO bid for nickel junior Panoramic late last year only to walk away from that bid on valuation grounds.
IGO's turbulent approach to spending its cash war chest looks set to be a major topic of discussion at the company's annual meeting of shareholders in two months' time.
Nickel has become increasingly fashionable in the past four years upon realisation that it will be an important ingredient in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.
Prices for the metal rose from about $US4 per pound in late 2015 to about $US8 per pound in late 2019.
Prices slumped to $US5 per pound earlier this year upon fears the coronavirus would crimp demand, but it have since recovered to about $US7 per pound.
But despite nickel becoming fashionable, the New Caledonia assets have been unreliable and troublesome for Vale since they were developed a decade ago at a cost of close to $US9 billion.
The Brazilian company took a $US2.51 billion impairment on the assets last year "due to the reduction in expected production levels of refined nickel'', and it signalled on Tuesday they would likely be shut.
''Vale will now start the required steps to place (Vale New Caledonia) on care and maintenance, in preparation for a possible shutdown of the operation, should no sustainable solution be found in the coming months,'' said the Brazilian miner in a statement.
''At the same time, the company is continuing efforts with the French State, the South Province of New Caledonia and (Vale New Caledonia) management to achieve a positive outcome for the future for the operations.''
The collapse of the New Caledonia deal puts the pressure back on New Century to make its Queensland base metals mine a viable enterprise.
The company's business model is based on the reprocessing of the mine wastes left behind by the previous owner of the Century mine, MMG Limited, and selling the traces of zinc, lead and silver that were left behind in the waste piles.
While that approach could make Century, where mining ceased in 2015, one of the world's top ten zinc producers this year, making money from the project has been more difficult than was expected.
Recoveries of saleable metal from the waste have been consistently lower than New Century suggested was possible when it floated on the ASX in mid 2017.
The halving of zinc prices between early 2018 and early 2020 also made life tough for the company, but that trend has reversed, with prices rising from about $US0.85 per pound to about $US1.12 per pound over the past six months.
Ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday it expects zinc prices to rise by a further 5 per cent before the end of 2020.
Cashflow from operations at Century have improved from negative $32.7 million in the first three months of 2020 to negative $9.8 million in the three months to June 30.
Prices for zinc have rallied by 12 per cent since June 30, with lead and silver prices also rallying, suggesting cashflow from operations should improve again in the three months to September 30, assuming operational stability at Century.
But more improvement is required given the company has been forced to take on debt at interest rates of 8 per cent in the past year, and also needs to rehabilitate the Century mine site under the terms of its 2017 agreement with MMG Limited.
The company has $60 million of debt due for repayment to Varde Partners in mid 2021, and a further $40 million due for repayment to the same lender in mid 2022.
New Century had $40 million of cash on hand at June 30.
Peter Ker covers resource comp
Pretty sure the 1 year rule comes into effect. Didn’t release full year statutory results either which they do end December usually. 1 year rule from December 2019 or when Annual report was due which would be March for AVQ
It will probably get delisted sooner than rampers think. Rampers keep acting like everything is fine, only the court case that is holding things back. Deceptive to the end, completely devoid of morals
Geo, you're as inept as RM. Click on AVQ and it lists the threads in order of last posted.
What a dipshit, can't technology Boomer!
What tune were you going to play? everything is fine, RM is the bestest CEO I've ever come across. You rampers have nothing, when did you find out all the QLD tenements are gone? No assets and all that debt at 50% too
Bahahaha Geoege realised how dense his question was and recoiled back into the bushes like the pervert he is!
Hasn't this investor aged since investing in the solomon islands. BTW he is only 67 years of age.
Geo , you looks very bad, you need to stop ramping Avq and RM
The Company will most likely delist at the End of June 2021.
been delisted for years a scam.,,,imo
Likely get delisted long before June as they have failed to lodge their Annual report and Statutory financial report