Metals & mining company Highlands Pacific Limited (ASX: HIG) today announced the voluntary suspension of its securities due to the pending release of an announcement.
The trading halt placed on 24 December 2018 was expected to be lifted today, 28 December 2018 but the company has voluntarily chosen to go into further suspension. Highlands stated that the halt relates to the pending announcement on potential control transaction.
Moreover, this voluntary suspension has been stated to remain in place until the release of an announcement as stated above. As per the company’s expectation, the announcement is due to be made on 2 January 2019.
In the half-year results for the period ended 30 June 2018, the company posted a net profit of US$36.1 million driven by the strong operating performance at the company’s Ramu Nickel and Cobalt mine. It represents the improvement of US$1.5 million in profit compared to the prior corresponding half year.
Highlands hold 8.56% interest in the Ramu project which produced and 1,644 tonnes of cobalt and 17,370 tonnes of nickel during the half year ended 30 June 2018. On the back of producing well above the plant design capacity, the project generated earnings of US$9.2 million for Highlands, compared with US$1.05 million in the previous corresponding period. Further, the operating expenses at the Ramu project were under tight control, leading to reduced unit costs and significantly higher margins with increasing commodity prices.
Highlands Managing Director Craig Lennon stated that in the long-term, the company has a positive outlook for battery metals including nickel, copper, and cobalt. Mr. Lennon added Highlands is well positioned to get benefitted from growth in demand for electric vehicles, which will continue to underpin commodity prices.
The company also achieved a considerable reduction in the operating costs incurred during the reporting period. It translates a 7% decline in operating cost to US$1.52 million despite the rise in foreign exchange losses. However, it declined by 34% to US$1.2 million, excluding foreign exchange and depreciation and amortization.
In February, Highlands regained 100% interest of the Star Mountains project after the Anglo American plc withdrew from the project. Subsequently, in March, a maiden mineral resource was confirmed at the Olgal prospect of the Star Mountains project. The company stated that this discovery demonstrates the region as one of the most prospective exploration areas in PNG. Further, it has been estimated that the deposit contains 210 MT grading 0.4% copper, for 2.9 Moz contained gold and 840,000 tonnes of contained copper.
Highlands stock is currently lying under the ‘suspended’ status and therefore has shown no daily price change. HIG last traded at $0.073 with a price to earnings ratio of 0.780 x and a market capitalization of $79.77 million. Over the past 12 months, the stock has fallen by 22.34% including the plunge of 36.52% over the last three months.
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