PH’s nickel value rises despite decline in output

Published February 11, 2021, 1:50 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippines’ nickel output declined in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to higher global prices, its full-year export value went up to P25 billion.

Citing data from Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) revealed that the country’s nickel sector produced a total of 18.5 million dry metric tons (DMT) in 2020, a 14 percent decline in production in comparison to 21.6 million DMT production in the previous year 2019.

The decrease in production was mainly brought about by the enhanced community quarantine between March to May 2020 where the movement of mineral products was limited throughout the country.

Nevertheless, the industry posted almost P25 billion in export value between January to September of 2020, which is higher than the P24 billion posted from the same period in 2019.

PNIA President Dante Bravo said the increased performance in export value for the nickel industry was mainly driven by the increase in prices of nickel in the market.

The improved world price of nickel in 2020 came from the steady demand in China keeping the local nickel sector’s performance with stable production of nickel throughout the year.

In 2020, PNIA members, composed of eight major nickel mines in the country, contributed almost 50 percent of the total nickel production in the Philippines.

Based on the recent MGB report, PNIA members produced a total of 7.9 million DMT with an export value amount of P11.6 billion pesos in 2020, while in 2019 members of the nickel association produced 9.6 million DMT with an export value of P10.6 billion pesos.

For 2021, the industry is optimistic about its operations as nickel consumption is seen to likely increase with the growing demand from foreign markets driven by the infrastructure sector and improved demand from the electric vehicle industry as well as the home appliance equipment manufacturing sector.

“We are hopeful that there will be a continuous demand for the year so that we can also keep our performance and help our local communities by providing them jobs that they can keep,” said Bravo.  

“The mining industry has kept employing 190,000 people in the entire country and this is very important especially that the Philippine government is trying to implement economic recovery efforts from the impact of the pandemic,” he added.

PNIA members include Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.’s (FNI) Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC), CTP Construction and Mining Corp., Marcventures Holdings Inc., Zambales Diversified Metals Corp., Berong Nickel Corp., Citinickel Mines and Development Corp., Agata Mining Ventures Inc., among others.

Combined, the Philippines mining sector has suffered a decline in output and value during the first nine months of 2020.

In total, during this period, the value of the country’s metal output fell by 4.75 percent from P99.72 billion during the same period in 2019 to P94.99 billion.

This, as almost all of the country’s minerals – gold, silver, copper, nickel, and chromite – booked lower production.