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Nickel sector seeks better policies

September 14, 2019

WHILE the Philippine mining industry welcomed Indonesia’s plan on nickel ore export ban as an opportunity to alleviate the impending supply shortfall, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) doubted the country’s capacity to do so, citing stringent and uncertain policies imposed by the national government.

“That’s exciting for the Philippine nickel industry, but we cannot definitely supply the gap being left by the Indonesian ore ban,” PNIA President Dante Bravo said at the sidelines of the Mining Philippines 2019 International Conference and Exhibition in Pasay City.

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of nickel ore, said last month it will stop ore export by January 2020 until 2022, due to supply shortage and focus on reserving its ore for fast-expanding

smelting industries of nickel pig iron, stainless steel and electric vehicles battery nickel.

“[As] soon as the plans in Indonesia get operational.. if they say it’s going to be operational by 2022, then we’re looking for basically three years for better prices for our ore,” Bravo said.

“We hope by then we have the EO (Executive Order) 79 already lifted so that we can also begin processing the mineral agreement and encourage investors to come in. Hopefully, follow the Indonesian model,” he added.

Currently, the Philippines is the second largest nickel producer in the world, next to Indonesia dubbed as its strongest competitor.

Industry and political problems loomed the local mining industry since the term of President Benigno Aquiono 3rd who signed Executive Order 79 in 2012 that implemented a nationwide ban on the grant of mining permits until a new mining revenue-sharing scheme is legislated.

In its latest industry report, Fitch Solutions said nickel smelters in China, which currently import majority of their ore from Indonesia, “will likely look to the Philippines as an alternative source of supply, due to its proximity and substantial nickel mining capacity.”

“This sudden increase in demand could lead to an acceleration of nickel mine development and increased investment into current operational projects, aimed at increasing production in 2020,” it

added.

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