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Nickel 28 Releases Ramu Q4 and Full Year 2020 Performance

TORONTO, ONTARIO, February 16, 2021 — Conic Metals Corp., soon to be renamed Nickel 28 Capital Corp. (“Nickel 28” or the “Company”) (TSXV: NKL) (FSE: 3JC) is pleased to provide results for the quarter ending December 31, 2020 and for the full year of 2020 for the Company’s largest asset, being Ramu Nickel-Cobalt (“Ramu”) integrated operation in Papua New Guinea.  Nickel 28 currently holds an 8.56% joint-venture interest in the Ramu operation.  Ramu is operated by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (“MCC”) which, along with its partners, owns an 85.0% interest in Ramu.

“We are pleased to update investors and shareholders on the continued strong performance of Ramu at a time when focus on nickel intermediates for use in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EV) is accelerating” stated Nickel 28’s President and CEO, Justin Cochrane.  “Ramu once again exceeded nameplate capacity and delivered cash costs well below industry average” continued Mr. Cochrane. 

The LME price improved significantly in Q4 to an average of $6.25 per pound compared to $5.93 per pound in the prior quarter and is currently trading at a range of $8.20-8.50 per pound.  In addition, cobalt prices have also improved to above $20.00 per pound from an average of $15.73 per pound in the quarter ending December 31, 2020. This is positively impacting Ramu’s ability to generate free cash and Ramu is benefitting from a secondary effect of improved payabilities for its mixed hydroxide product (“MHP”). “Given the ongoing reports on Vale’s New Caledonian operations being shut down, we are seeing increased tightness in the MHP market. There are only four MHP producers worldwide and Ramu is the leader in that group.  Ramu is well positioned to maximize return for our product as MHP is gaining traction as the raw material of choice for battery production and even at 90% nickel payable, it is still a significant saving compared to current nickel sulphate prices.  These factors will contribute to Nickel 28’s target of repaying the operating portion of the Ramu JV debt in 2021 and achieving positive cash for the Company in 2022,” stated Anthony Milewski, chairman of the Company’s board of directors.

Ramu produced 8,373 tonnes of contained nickel in MHP in the quarter compared to 7,902 tonnes in the same period in the prior year, representing an improvement of 6%.  MHP shipments were consistent with prior periods at 9,436 tonnes of nickel contained in MHP.  Ramu’s actual cash costs were $2.24 per pound of nickel contained in MHP (net of by-product credits) for the quarter and $2.07 per pound of nickel contained on a full year basis.

Ramu’s operating and financial performance for the period are presented below along with comparison to prior years, noting that these figures are unaudited.

  2018 2019 2020
  Q4 Full Year Q4 Full Year Q4 Full Year
Ore Processed (dry kt) 963 3,710 886 3,556 884 3,572
MHP Produced (dry tonne) 23,871 92,258 19,695 83,024 21,435 84,602
Contained Nickel (tonne) 9,182 35,355 7,902 32,722 8,373 33,659
Contained Cobalt (tonne) 838 3,275 674 2,911 745 2,941
Nickel Capacity Utilization (% of design1) 113% 108% 97% 100% 103% 103%
MHP Shipped (dry tonne) 24,272 66,565 24,460 103,891 24,397 75,071
Contained Nickel (tonne) 9,413 25,960 9,685 40,261 9,436 29,683
Contained Cobalt (tonne) 865 2,429 827 3,626 850 2,600
Cash Cost Actual2 $1.49 $0.87 $2.68 $2.57 $2.24 $2.07

Note (1)   Ramu design capacity of 32,600 tonne/year contained Ni 
Note (2)   Actual Cash Cost net of byproduct credit 

A. Nickel 28 has included certain performance measures in this press release that do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by international financial reporting standards (IFRS) including (Cash Cost Actual. The presentation of these non-IFRS measures is intended to provide additional information and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS. Other companies may calculate these non-IFRS measures differently. Note these figures have not been audited and are subject to change.

B. These figures have not been audited and are subject to change. As the company has not yet finished its year-end annual close procedures, and the audit of its 2020 financial statements is not complete, the anticipated financial information presented in this press release is preliminary, subject to final year-end closing adjustments and may change materially. The information presented above has not been audited by the company's independent accountants, should not be considered a substitute for audited financial statements and should not be regarded as a representation by the company as to the actual financial results.

About Conic / Nickel 28

Conic Metals Corp. is a nickel-cobalt producer through its 8.56% joint-venture interest in the producing, long-life and world-class Ramu Nickel-Cobalt Operation located in Papua New Guinea.  Ramu provides Conic with significant attributable nickel and cobalt production thereby offering our shareholders direct exposure to two metals which are critical to the adoption of electric vehicles. In addition, Conic manages a portfolio of 13 nickel and cobalt royalties on development and exploration projects in Canada, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains certain information which constitutes ‘forward-looking statements’ and ‘forward-looking information’ within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as “may”, “should”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “potential”, “believe”, “intend” or the negative of these terms and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to: statements and figures with respect to the operational and financial results; statements with respect to the prospects of nickel and cobalt in the global electrification of vehicles; statements related to the repayment of the Company’s Ramu operating debt; and statements with respect to the business and assets of the Company and its strategy going forward. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, most of which are beyond the Company’s control. Should one or more of the risks or uncertainties underlying these forward-looking statements materialize, or should assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements prove incorrect, actual results, performance or achievements could vary materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

The forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this release and, other than as required by applicable securities laws, the Company does not assume any obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances. The forward-looking statements contained in this release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. No securities regulatory authority has either approved or disapproved of the contents of this news release.

Investor Contact:
Justin Cochrane
Tel: 647.846.7765