Strong prices are seeing even the lower quality iron ore producers make decent cash, with BCI Minerals (ASX:BCI) banking $2.8m in the March quarter.

But it’s not enough for BCI to want to keep the iron ore projects in its portfolio.

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BCI said it is still continuing with its process to divest its iron ore assets so it can secure additional cash to sink into the Mardie salt and potash project.

The company shipped 1.8 million wet tonnes from its Iron Valley mine, which is operated by larger producer Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN).

BCI said about 65 per cent of the Iron Valley product shipped during the quarter was fines, because Mineral Resources wanted to take advantage of higher headline iron ore prices and lower discounts for 58 per cent iron ore products to draw down on existing fines stockpiles.

Last week, the price for 58 per cent fines hit a five-year high of nearly $US80 ($111.58) a tonne, while the higher quality benchmark 62 per cent fines price continued its run back up above $US95 a tonne.

Fines, which attract significantly lower pricing than lump, has accounted for about 45 per cent of the Iron Valley product shipped to date.

BCI said its EBITDA – or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation – was a healthy $2.8m, including a positive prior quarter adjustment of $600,000, thanks to strong iron ore prices.

The company has been contacted for comment.

 

In other bulk news:

 

Despite Universal Coal (ASX:UNV) selling a record 1.9 million tonnes of its thermal coal from its South African mines, it witnessed a 32 per cent drop in its EBITDA to $22.5m during the March quarter. The company said its earnings were negatively impacted by the downturn in the international coal price. Universal has upped its FY19 target to 6.8 million saleable tonnes, from 6 million tonnes previously.
 
Metro Mining (ASX:MMI) has restarted mining at Bauxite Hills north of Weipa in Queensland now the wet season has ended. The first ship arrived last Thursday and is currently being loaded. Before mining was halted at the end of December, Metro had shipped over 2 million wet tonnes to five Chinese customers. Metro has revised its production upwards to 3.5 million tonnes for 2019.
 
Bowen Coking Coal (ASX:BCB) has kicked off a drilling program at its Isaac River project near the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Daunia mine in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin. The 60,000 sq km Bowen Basin hosts Australia’s biggest coal reserves and virtually all of the known mineable prime coking coal, according to the Bowen Basin Underground Geotechnical Society.