Nickel industry pushes for streamlining of permitting process

By: Philippine Resources September 04, 2023

Philippine Nickel Industry Association president Dante Bravo on Tuesday (Aug. 29, 2023) said promoting ease of doing business can help develop the country's mining industry. Bravo said the Philippines has the capability to supply over 40 million tons of nickel ore to the global market. (Photo by Anna Leah Gonzales)

The Philippines has the capacity to supply over 40 million tons of nickel ore to the global market but changes must be made in the permitting process to accelerate growth of the mining industry, a top official of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) said on Tuesday.

"We have a potential to supply beyond 40 million tons, probably even more because the take-up of nickel right now in the battery sector is increasing year in, year out," PNIA president Dante Bravo said during the Nickel Initiative at Makati Diamond Residences.

Bravo said nickel demand is expected to further increase as nickel ore is a critical component of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

"We have a chance to grow the supply here in the Philippines. That opportunity will come as we see the price becoming more stable and becoming more viable to access these other areas which we will probably discover later in this country when we push for more nickel development in this country," he said.

Data from the PNIA earlier showed that the production in 2022 reached 29.2 million dry metric tons.

Bravo said production for this year is projected to be about the same as last year.

However, he cited the need to promote predictability in regulations and ease of doing business to help the mining industry grow.

Bravo said this is the common sentiment based on feedback from the Nickel Initiative stakeholder roundtable sessions and business conference of the PNIA.

To fast-track the approval of mining permits, PNIA is discussing with the government if a “one-stop shop” program, similar to what was provided to support growth sectors such as energy, can be implemented in the mining sector.

Bravo said streamlining the one-stop shop program would help cut the permitting process to six months to one year from the current five to 10 years.

“Mining is capital intensive in every stage of the operation’s life cycle from exploration to extraction, to value added processing. While there is a lot of interest in the Philippines as a mining investment destination, we need to convince investors that the business environment is ready and conducive for their entry to the Philippines,” he said.

Bravo said other areas for reform that were flagged in the Nickel Initiative consultations include streamlining of fiscal regime, harmonization of national and local mining regulations, and monitoring and evaluation of environmental protection laws.

Developing PH mining industry

Meanwhile, the government said a resilient and sustainable mining industry can support the country's economic and social development.

"The mining industry can advance multiple development pathways. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated that those who extract our natural resources must follow the law. The DENR is guided by this directive, and we affirm our commitment towards responsible mining through the implementation of pro people, pro environment and science-based policies and programs," Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.

Loyzaga said that starting next year, the DENR will implement two priority programs to develop the mining industry.

She said the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Office for Integrated Environmental Science will start an extensive government-led exploration of critical minerals.

"We are directing MGB to concentrate efforts on mineral exploration in the coming year. This effort will be augmented by technical support coming from our foreign development partners, including the Australian government and the US Geological Survey," she added.

Loyzaga said the DENR also intends to promote an enabled mineral processing.

"Both strategies aim to maximize the value of our mineral resources that the Philippines is endowed with and utilize these tools towards our own energy transition and economic development," she said. By Anna Leah Gonzales


Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

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