Suspended cobalt sales, higher costs fuel Katanga’s Q4 loss
Katanga Mining (TSX: KAT; US-OTC: KATFF) lost $116 million in 2018’s fourth quarter to end the year with $13.4 million in gross profit, a result of temporary cobalt sale suspensions, higher reagent costs at its Luilu metallurgical plant and increased mine infrastructure and support costs.
The company recorded a $52.8 million fourth quarter loss in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) compared to a $100.7 million gain in the previous quarter. However, it still earned more than $215 million in adjusted EBIDTA on the year, compared to a loss of $382 million in 2017.
The company’s costs rose from $368 million in 2018’s third quarter to $460 million in 2018’s fourth quarter, and from $31 million in 2017 to $1.2 billion in 2018. Underground mining costs fell slightly in the 2018’s quarter compared to its third quarter, but most other production costs rose.
In November 2018, the company temporarily suspended cobalt sales and exports from its Kamoto copper-cobalt project after finding higher levels of uranium in its cobalt hydroxide than African ports allow. It intends to build an Ion Exchange system that will remove uranium from its cobalt, and says it should have the system commissioned by 2019’s third quarter.
In December 2018 the Ontario Securities Commission fined Katanga and some former board members for disclosure violations that led to misleading financial disclosures to investors.
The company says its fourth quarter loss was partly offset by higher copper sales in the quarter. The company earned $270 million in copper revenue in 2018’s fourth quarter, compared to $246 million in the previous quarter.
The company has a $1.2 billion market capitalization.
This story first appeared in The Northern Miner