Nickel output to hit over 40 million WMT in 2020
THE country’s nickel output is seen to increase next year, reaching more than 40-million wet metric tons (WMT), the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) said.
The improvement is attributed mainly to the Indonesian nickel ore export ban, as well as anticipated better prices for the commodity by 2020, PNIA President Dante Bravo told reporters in a press conference on Friday.
“You know when the price is a bit high, if you can make money you can go further, further distances to mine and that could increase the volume basically,” he said.
“It’s more than 40 million tons, I think,” said Bravo, quickly adding that, “whether it will exceed 50 million tons, I doubt.”
Citing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Bravo said that for this year, the country’s nickel production would reach about 25 to 26-million dry metric tons (DMT) as compared to last year’s 26-million DMT.
DMT is a term used to identify the volume of the total mined commodity after its moisture level content — at an inherent 35 percent — has been decreased.
A ‘strong year’ for nickel industry
Meanwhile, Bravo also said Indonesia’s planned nickel ore export ban from 2020 to 2022 will likely increase demand for Philippine nickel ore. Currently, the Philippines is the second largest nickel producer in the world, next to Indonesia that exported 600,000 metric tons (MT) in 2018.
The nickel industry, he further said, was banking on the government’s approval for suspended mines to resume operations.
“In Zambales, we hope that, because some of the mines have to resume operations, I think by next year, [W]e have four mines [and] they might start [their operations] [and] that would add up,” he said.
“In Mindanao, we hope that some of the mines in Dinagat Islands will be able to operate, so that’s going to add up also,” Bravo added.
The Philippine nickel mining sector has seen declining production over the past years as a result of ore-grade declines and the DENR banning and suspending open pit mining in the country.
PNIA Chairman Emeritus Clarence Pimentel Jr. said: “My outlook for the industry is very optimistic. Based on our mine planning, there’s going to be a balance between market forces of prices and requirements. Altogether, I think we’re looking at a strong year.”
For 2020, the PNIA was considering the US-China trade war to be one of the major challenges for the Philippine nickel industry, according to Bravo. “[T]hat remains basically to be the main challenge, in terms of foreign exchange, economic growth, and going direct investments.”