Focusing on the exploration, construction, mining, processing and marketing of mining projects, China Hanking has taken various measures to create and enhance the value of every mining project, including rational planning, resource acquisition, technology improvement, output increase, efficiency enhancement and cost cutting. On 20 April 2017, the disposal of all the shares in Hanking Australia (which held the SXO Gold Project and its assets) was completed at an enterprise value of AUD330 million, representing a relatively substantial increase in the project value as compared with the consideration of AUD19.7 million paid for the acquisition of the SXO Gold Project by the Company in 2013. The disposal demonstrated our commitment to value enhancement of mining projects. Through our efforts over the past years, the resources of the SXO Gold Project increased from 2.4 million ounces to 4.6 million ounces, and the project officially commenced production in February 2015, leading to significant increase in the value of the SXO Gold Project.
The aforesaid disposal well demonstrated our capability in value enhancement for mining projects, attracting more and more mine owners, mining companies and financial institutions to conduct cooperation negotiations with the Company. The disposal also offered the Company with more resources to develop new mining projects, creating favorable conditions for the sustainable development of the Company.
As to iron ore business, Maogong Mine of the Group invested only RMB1.5 million to further increase the capacity of its processing plant through optimization of production process and replacement of certain equipment. In 2017, the output of iron ore concentrates from Maogong Mine amounted to 1.13 million metric tons, representing a year-on-year increase of 33%. With the completion of the undergrounding mining works of Maogong Mine, the output of iron ore concentrates from Maogong Mine is expected to increase in 2018 and 2019. In 2017, Maogong Mine obtained the exploration permit covering an area of 8.85 km2. The exploration area covered by the exploration permit has a high potential in iron ore exploration, which is expected to further increase the resources of Maogong Mine and extend the mining life of the mine, thus enhancing the value of the mine.
Unlike most of the domestic peers which produce iron ore concentrates with a grade of 65%-66%, the Company produces iron ore concentrates with a grade of 69%. The higher grade of raw ores helps to reduce unit production cost for steel manufacturers. In 2017, by strengthening analysis on market trend and carrying out negotiations with customers regarding high-grade iron ore concentrates, the mark-up rates of the prices in respect of the grade and other factors have been increased under the 2018 Iron Ore Concentrates Sale Agreement. Generally, the sale price of per metric ton of iron ore concentrates under the new agreement will increase by approximately RMB21 as compared with the agreed pricing method under the 2017 Iron Ore Concentrates Sale Agreement. Such increase in the sale price of iron ore concentrates will not lead to increase in costs or expenditure, which is expected to have a positive impact on the profitability of the Company.
As to nickel business, the increase in the production capacity of nickel smelting facilities in Indonesia drove the local demands for laterite nickel ore within Indonesia. Therefore, the Company resumed mining of laterite nickel ore in August 2017 and started to deliver laterite nickel ore to the customers in October 2017. The resumption of mining and sales from the Hanking Laterite Nickel Ore Project in Indonesia marked a new era of the project, which will again become a new area of earnings growth for the Company.
Apart from the existing mineral resources, the Company also watched closely the resources required for future social and economic development. Among the many industries, renewable energy industry registered rapid growth, thus driving the increase in demands for lithium, cobalt and nickel. After analyzing the supply-and-demand conditions and future changes in such condition of these three metals, the Company was of the opinion that cobalt had greater growth potential. Thus, in 2017, the Company became a strategic cornerstone shareholder of Corazon Mining Ltd, which is a junior CO-CU-AU-NI exploration company listed in Australia, taking this as a starting point to tap the cobalt business.
In 2018, the global economy will maintain a steady growth momentum. In addition, both developing countries and developed countries intend to boost economic growth potential by constructing and upgrading infrastructure, which will increase demands for resources and drive up resource price. The Company will continue to improve the operation of its existing businesses and seek more development opportunities in areas including gold, copper and cobalt mine, with an aim to create greater value for our shareholders.
In 2017, in addition to the investment gain of approximately RMB763,223,000 from the disposal of the SXO Gold Project, the Group recorded a revenue of approximately RMB1,091,034,000 from the continuing operations with the profit for the year of approximately RMB99,959,000, turning around the loss-making position of the Group for two previous consecutive years. Such improvement would not be possible without the dedication of all our staff and supports from our shareholders and partners. On behalf of the Board, I hereby wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the management and all staff of the Group for their great efforts and contributions over the past year. Moreover, to reward the shareholders of the Company, further to a special dividend of HK$0.2 per share distributed in 2017, a final dividend of HK$0.01 per Share for 2017 was proposed by the Board.