- 2020 Solway Group consolidated revenues of USD 624.2 million, the same as last year.
- Group Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) of USD 167 million with EBITDA margin of 26.7 %
- Production costs decreased by 6.3 % year over year (y-o-y) to USD 438.9 million
- Solway has a cash balance at the level that exceeds a financial debt and, as a result, the net debt-to-EBITDA ratio is below zero for the end of 2020.
Despite challenges arising from the pandemic year, Solway’s operations have remained stable and safe. The Solway Group, referred to as “The Group”, managed to prevent any enterprise closures and thus avoided negative social and economic impacts in its regions of operations. Continuous operations were maintained and in certain businesses, planned production outcomes were even exceeded. The Group response was guided by two key priorities: protecting the health and safety of employees and local communities, and laying the foundation for sustainable development and long-term economic recovery. This was done by providing vital resources, helping build community resilience and introducing sanitary and epidemiological safety practices across all of the Group’s operations.
Solway’s strategic vision creates circular economic returns and prioritizes long-term growth over short-term profits. We are dedicated to mitigating the impact of our production on local environments and applying integrated environmental impact assessments when planning investment projects. We emphasize the efficient use of natural resources, raw materials, and energy on-site. During 2020, the Group achieved several major milestones in implementing these approaches consistently across operations.
In 2020, Solway has been actively solving the problem of reducing the carbon footprint, which is seen in the choice of new projects and optimization of existing ones. For several years, one of the Group’s major assets, the Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant (PFP), has been implementing a project to rehabilitate gas treatment plants, with the aim of reducing emissions by 99.9%. The advanced stage of the project was reached in 2020. The Group is currently transferring its Guatemalan production to renewable energy sources. Recently, the Group sold the Maba project in Indonesia, which required the construction of extensive infrastructure, including its own coal-fired power plant. This was sold in order to concentrate efforts on the development of a cluster of medium-sized mining assets on Sulawesi Island, which has since developed a power grid. The Group has started a negotiation process with the local operator to conclude a contract for providing its projects with renewable energy.
In 2020, in addition to the metallurgical sector, the Group has started carefully monitoring the rapidly growing sector for rechargeable battery inputs: nickel sulfate, lithium and graphite. At the end of 2020, Solway made its first investments in Canadian lithium and graphite production projects and is now considering other opportunities, including production of nickel sulphate on the basis of the Group’s project in Indonesia. These new projects further support Solway’s transition to a more circular economic business model, best seen in the development of sustainable, low-carbon, resource-efficient, competitive operations.
The Group also sees vast potential in the re-development of brownfield technogenic deposits of waste materials, which allows it to recover valuable resources to their full potential and with great efficiency. In 2020, Solway started its first waste-reprocessing project, Zheltuginskaya Mining Company, acquiring the license in order to commence a low-cost gold leaching operation. This operation will include recovering gold from historic waste-rock stockpiles generated by Kluchevskoe’s open pit mining operations in the Zabaikalsky region of Siberia, Russia. Solway believes that reprocessing the waste-rock can address environmental and social challenges present in this historic mining area. This project can lead to environmental restoration of exhausted mining areas, provide new employment opportunities for the neighboring communities. Public hearings held last year demonstrated unanimous support for the projects from the local stakeholders.
Another example of the Group’s commitment to using natural resources wisely and efficiently, while optimizing long-term investments,was the development of the Borov Dol project in North Macedonia. This project will extend the life of Solway’s Buchim flotation plant by supplying the processing facility with copper ore when the ore reserves of the Bucim mine are depleted. During 2020, the Group received broad community support and formal environmental permit for the development of the Borov Dol mine and successfully fulfilled its plans for the upcoming start of operations. In 2020, construction of the main production facilities was fully completed, and infrastructure and auxiliary buildings were built up to 95%. In 2020, at Bucim Solway upgraded and reconstructed the system for the return and recycling of the process water. These measures contribute to protecting groundwater, preserving the soil and protecting environment. The Group is also developing a plan for reclamation of the Bucim’s open-pit mines, which, given the current research, will be implemented over the next year.
“Green and sustainable mining is about reducing waste, reusing resources and taking social responsibility. Solway strives to implement these principles across various domains. This approach inevitably leads to careful investment in human capital. At Solway, what is learned in each project is intentionally transferred to the next one. This leads to increased retention of the workforce, which creates a high premium for skills, enables an efficient use of resources and improves safety. While developing the new Borov Dol mine, we ensured that all the competencies and skills gained by the Bucim management team in 15 years of Solway’s mine operation would be utilized in the new project. When creating the Zheltuginskaya Mining Company’s development plan, our goal was to research and design customized, environmentally-conscientious management strategies for handling low-grade mineralized material. This result is a clear technological scheme for the low-cost gold leaching operation, based on the expertise Solway gained in its management of the Kurilgeo gold mining project.” — comments by Dan Bronstein, Chairman of the Board of Solway Investment Group.
Guatemala: Pronico and CGN
Pronico delivered 22,894 metric tons of nickel in ferronickel in 2020.
2020 Capital expenditures reached USD 7.2 million at Pronico and USD 1.0 million at CGN. Capital expenditures were primarily directed towards construction of a new ash dump, purchases of electricity and additional mining equipment, modernization and exploration works.
Ukraine: Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant (PFP)
Total volume of processed ore at PFP amounted to 1,395,746 metric tons of wet ore in 2020, producing 14,719 tons of nickel / 73,700 tons of ferronickel.
USD 5.8 million was spent on major repairs of PFP’s main technical equipment and environmental programs in 2020.
Russia: Kurilgeo Project
2020 production of 38.08 koz. of gold and 88.96 koz. of silver. Total ore mined and put on the leach pads reached 727,900 tons.
Low operating costs ensured a high operating margin in line with the project’s business plan. Kurilgeo’s operations generated USD 70.93 million in revenues, with an EBITDA margin of 67% in 2020.
North Macedonia: Bucim copper mine
In 2020, the Bucim copper mine production was: 28,484 tons of dry copper concentrate, containing 5,903 tons of copper; 14.40 koz. of gold; 27.71 koz. of silver and 722 tons of copper cathodes. The Group’s Cu segment performed stably, with a 2020 EBITDA margin of 46%.
Borov Dol project
10.018 million tons of total material were moved in 2020, including 1.17 million tonnes of ore.
Total investment in 2020 in the Borov Dol project reached USD 39.1 million. This included USD 12.2 million for construction works, and USD 16.6 million for mining equipment. Construction of the main production facilities was completed in full in 2020, including the conveyor line, primary crusher. Infrastructure and auxiliary buildings were 95% completed.
Indonesia: nickel and cobalt projects
In 2020, the Group acquired all the required permits for its operations in Indonesia, including primary mining licenses, and developed mining infrastructure to execute the next stage of its development program for these resource-rich deposits.
The current projects in development, located in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, will unlock the potential of nickel and cobalt ore reserves. This will allow Solway to further increase its share in the global nickel market for stainless steel nickel intermediates, while establishing itself as a player in the market for intermediate nickel and cobalt products, such as those used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles.
In support of the Indonesian Government’s plan to establish Indonesia as a world center of electric vehicles (EV) manufacturing, Solway Group’s long-term strategy in Indonesia includes the development of processing facilities for nickel intermediates such as nickel matte and mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) for the production of battery-grade nickel sulfate material.
Papua New Guinea: nickel laterite project
Based on its extensive expertise in exploring nickel laterite in Indonesia and successful field reconnaissance works completed in several locations in Papua New Guinea, Solway Group Asia Pacific plans to undertake a detailed exploration program in Papua New Guinea to confirm new major nickel laterite deposits.
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