Nickel 28 Capital: A Nickel-Cobalt Producer Leading its Industry is Going Green

Global primary nickel demand is seen increasing by 12% in 2021 to 2.67 million tonnes, while primary nickel production is only expected to climb by 9% to 2.7 million tonnes, according to the International Nickel Study Group. Presently about 65% of annual nickel production is used to manufacture stainless steel. However, Electrified Vehicle (EV), nickel demand for use in batteries, is forecast to grow to 1.3 million tonnes yearly by 2030. You read that right, EV demand alone could consume almost 50% of current global nickel production within the foreseeable future. There’s no renewable or low carbon replacement for stainless steel, so that demand isn’t going away. Suffice it to say the supply/demand picture looks reasonably healthy for nickel for the foreseeable future, which might be why nickel prices have risen almost 10% year to date, despite being down 11% from their recent highs in September.

When we last visited an interesting opportunity to gain exposure to this commodity, Nickel 28 Capital Corp. (TSXV: NKL), was on the cusp of a transformational change whereby they were about to pay off the Operating Debt for the Company’s principal asset, an 8.56% joint-venture interest in the Ramu Nickel-Cobalt operation in Papua New Guinea. As part of a Joint Venture Agreement with majority owner and operator of the mine, Metallurgical Corporation of China Limited (MCC), it, MCC, provided the financing for the construction and development of the Ramu Mine. Nickel 28 had two separate debt agreements with MCC – one to finance the original construction of the mine (Construction Debt) and a second amount to finance the ramp up and early operating expenses of the mine (Operating Debt). 100% of the operating surpluses from the mine were first allocated to repay the Operating Debt and related interest, meaning that once this is paid off there is significant free cash flow available to Nickel 28.

Once the Operating Debt is repaid, Nickel 28 can repay the Construction Debt at any time without penalty but is entitled to its share of 35% of the mine’s operating surpluses, with the remaining 65% used to repay any remaining Construction Debt and related interest. For the three months ended June 30, 2021, Nickel 28 Capital Corp. recognized $8.4 million for its share of operating profit from the Ramu Mine and $14.9 million for the first six months of 2021. Assuming, they make the final payment of $10.2 million to the Operating Debt, that should leave $1.6 million ($4.7 million x 35%) to add to the quarter end cash of $4.6 million. Going forward, Nickel 28 could be adding 35% of $7-$10 million per quarter, depending on mine output and commodity pricing. But what to do with all that cash? That’s material liquidity for a company that also manages a portfolio of eleven royalties (see below). Nickel 28 says that it intends to continue to invest in a cobalt and nickel-focused portfolio of streams, royalties and direct interests in mineral properties which could use up some of that extra cash.

Source: Nickel 28 Capital Corp. Q2/2021 MD&A

But perhaps even more compelling than all the potential upside from the royalties is the path that the Company is taking on the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) front. There is no question that more and more emphasis is being put globally on how safely and with minimum environmental footprint you provide your commodity. To that end, on February 9, 2021, the Company announced that it had completed an independent analysis on greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity for the Ramu nickel-cobalt operation, confirming that the operation is one of the lower GHG emitters in the world nickel industry. Ramu’s average GHG intensity has been calculated at 15.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of nickel (15.6 tCO2e/t Ni) contained  in mixed hydroxide product. This compares favorably to a nickel industry average GHG intensity of 36.6 tCO2e/t Ni as calculated by Wood Mackenzie. Then on March 15, 2021, in an industry first, Nickel 28 bought carbon offsets for its share of Ramu nickel and cobalt production. The carbon offsets will fully offset Nickel 28’s anticipated 2021 attributable GHG emissions from the Ramu integrated nickel-cobalt mine, and makes it the mining industry’s first carbon neutral refined nickel-cobalt producer. This should put Nickel 28 in all green ETFs once everyone figures this out.

With 85.7 million shares outstanding, the Company has a market cap of roughly C$79 million based on yesterday’s close of C$0.92. When you think about what the value of an 8.56% interest in a producing world class nickel-cobalt mine is, plus the cash flow that it’s about to start generating, one can make a pretty compelling investment thesis. The fact that they might be the greenest miner out there right now should give it a premium over whatever other metric you want to use to measure this company by. So if you are interested in having some exposure to nickel, the commodity, you might want to look at Nickel 28 Capital Corp.

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4 responses

  1. Mike S Avatar
    Mike S

    Great article Dean. It seems to be a very solid streaming company with growth for years! We are looking for a dividend to be issued. I am inquiring if you have any insight on the CEO/CFO Anthony/Justin as they were promoting Nickel 28 over the past 12 months and they said they had a listing on the US Exchange under CONXF and a listing in Frankfurt as well. The US symbol isn’t able to be traded anymore due to lack of filing basic docs with the SEC per around 10/1/21. How can Nickel 28 become compliant so CONXF can continue to be traded in the US.

    1. LAWRENCE Avatar

      Mike S.- Are you sure CONXF can no longer be traded?? Oftentimes buying CONXF is quite expensive for Americans, who often must pay a $50 surcharge on the trade and not because it’s a Canadian stock but rather because Nickel 28 hasn’t filed for DTC eligibility, while other companies have. When I inquired as to the surcharge, the Fidelity rep. said it came down to “DTC eligibility”; some Canadian companies are eligible because they’ve filed to do so, which means the trade happens electronically, others (CONXF, for one) have not, so the trade in their shares must be handled manually, hence the additional charge.

      “DTC Eligibility means that a public company’s securities are able to be deposited through DTC. DTC is the largest securities depository in the world and holds over thirty-five trillion dollars worth of securities on deposit. DTC accepts deposits of securities from its participants only, who are usually clearing firms. A depository transfer check (DTC) is used by a designated collection bank to deposit the daily receipts of a corporation from multiple locations. Depository transfer checks are a way to ensure better cash management for companies, which collect cash at multiple locations.”

      My questions to the company on this matter have so far been ignored or unanswered, though they have answered other questions… but your assertion, if correct, is much bigger than any DTC concerns, so I say again: are you sure? How do you know this?

      My questions to the company on this matter have so far been ignored or unanswered, though they have answered other questions… but your assertion, if correct, is much bigger than any DTC concerns, so I say again: are you sure? How do you know this?

  2. Mike S Avatar
    Mike S

    Good Day Lawrence, I and some fellow US investors use E-trade and as of 10/1/21 the E-trade PWM stated no one can buy CONXF through the E-trade platform. Before we were paying $4.95/trade and the bid/ask spread was always $0.03-0.04. I know this because I’ve been buying shares for the past 6 months. We also just voted in September 2021. If I remember correctly over the past 6 months or so Anthony/Justin were doing various interviews and several times it was mentioned Nickel 28 traded in Canada/US/Frankfurt. Any ideas you have are welcome so we can get to the bottom of this. Let me know if you need any additional clarification.

  3. LAWRENCE Avatar

    Mike- I had Fidelity put a mock trade up and you’re right; Nickel 28 is not compliant, and as a result shares can be sold but not bought (which sounds a little strange to me). This is very concerning; thank you again for making this known to me and PS- Fidelity couldn’t tell me exactly how they’re not compliant, just that they aren’t currently compliant. -L.

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