Nickel miners see stronger 2020 due to Indonesian export ban
THE Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) is projecting stronger production in 2020 on the back of a nickel export ban by Indonesia and higher prices.
“We are looking at stronger production year next year with the Indonesian ore ban. We are looking forward to seeing what the market holds. Hopefully the prices… they dipped a little bit right but we are looking at a stronger year next year,” PNIA Chairman Clarence J. Pimentel, Jr. told reporters.
“We are about 25% above (year-earlier) production this year… I think most of us are at that level at this point,” he said. Higher prices are also expected towards the end of the year.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said nickel production grew 3% to 11.306 million dry metric tons (DMT) in the first half of 2019. The United States Geological Survey noted in a report published in February that in 2018, Indonesia was the top nickel producer with 560,000 tons, followed by the Philippines, with 340,000 tons.
Indonesia has banned nickel ore exports starting 2020 in a bid to develop a processing industry, thereby capturing more value-added from the nickel trade.
Regarding the investment outlook, Mr. Pimentel said he is hoping for an improved climate with greater clarity on the government’s stance on revenue-sharing from mineral extraction, the ban on open pit mining, and the moratorium on the issuance of new mining permits.
“We are getting there, and the government is trying its best to invite more investment and it’s easing up a little bit. I am hoping that next year, we’ll see a step forward,” he said.
PNIA is also discussing with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) plans to join the International Nickel Study Group (INSG).
“We are crossing our fingers with the DTI…. We are looking forward to it, but it’s something that the government has to take the lead on. Not the private sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, PNIA said it has entered into a partnership with the China Industrial Association of Power Sources (CIAPS) through its Power Battery Application committee in a bid to tap demand from the growing electric vehicle industry.
“We believe that there is a great opportunity for the nickel industry in the Philippines. Aside from the country’s wealth of natural nickel reserves, champions of nickel mining are encouraged by developments that are vital in driving business and investment growth around the world,” Mr. Pimentel said in a statement.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on Nov. 15 with the Chinese producers which contemplates possible joint ventures and investment agreements.