PH nickel seen benefitting from exports ban

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    The Philippine Nickel Industry Association remains optimistic its members can benefit from assured spike in nickel prices next year due to Indonesia’s nickel ore exports ban.

    “In terms of value, we think it would be higher this year for ore exports because of the reported Indonesian ore nickel ban… I am not sure in terms of percentage next year because it would depend basically on the prices particularly the lower grades because that is where the added volume will be coming from,” Dante Bravo, the group’s president, said.

    “Insofar as medium and high grades, we have limited volume on that one so I don’t think we can expect much volume from that,” he added.

    Bravo said what could temper this benefit is the effects of the still unresolved trade war between the United States and China.

    Earlier, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the Philippines will not imitate Indonesia’s ore exports ban as its main concern at present is for mining companies to comply with environmental and social safeguards.

    Indonesia will stop nickel ore exports starting next year as part of efforts to process more of its resources locally rather than ship its raw ores abroad for processing.

    Nickel is used to produce stainless steel and batteries. The Philippines currently has 29 active nickel miners and two processing plants.

    Nickel mining in the country ends during October when rains and strong winds affect operations, and resumes in March or April the following year.

    Data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau showed as of end-2018, direct shipping nickel ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide contributed the most to the country’s total metallic production value at 45.25 percent. From a total of P121.94 billion, the red metal’s share was at P55.18 billion.

    However, as of the first quarter of the year, the combined output of direct shipping nickel ore and mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide was only at the second spot with 36 percent share. Of the P27.47-billion total metallic production value for the period, earnings from nickel stood at P9.81 billion.