The nickel industry in the Philippines, one of the most highly mineralized countries in the world, will keep its growth momentum this year despite the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) said it is optimistic that the nickel sector’s resilient growth amidst the pandemic will continue to contribute greatly to the country’s economic recovery efforts.
Without citing an exact figure, PNIA President Dante R. Bravo said that from January to March of this year, the group’s members, who are some of the major nickel players in the Philippines, already supplied approximately half of the Philippines’ nickel production and 31 percent of total mineral production recorded in 2020.
Bravo said the increase was driven by the continuous uptrend in nickel prices and by the robust demand from China’s stainless steel producers.
“Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s nickel industry remained resilient with a reported increase of 4 percent in production growth and 22 percent in export value citing a comparison of year-on-year data for 2019 and 2020,” Bravo said.
Based on data from Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the country’s total direct shipping ore production was valued at P38.86 billion in 2020, which was higher than the P31.79 billion in 2019.
The MGB’s data also revealed that from January to December of 2020, the nickel industry produced 27.17 million dry metric tonnes (DMT) of nickel ore, which is higher compared to 2019’s total production of 26.21 million DMT.
“We are hopeful to maintain this growth momentum especially after the issuance of EO [Executive Order] 130 that lifted the ban on new mineral agreements as it will pave the way for new mining projects and entice more investments in the mining industry,” Bravo said.
Overall, the mining industry contributed P102.3 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020.
The sector, once highly scrutinized by the Duterte Administration, also contributed about P25.52 billion from national and local taxes, fees, and royalties, based on MGB’s recent report.
To be specific, the total value of minerals, mineral products, and non-metallic mineral manufacture exported in the past year was at US$5.2 billion.
For his part, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said MGB’s report shows how the mining industry plays a “huge role in the country’s economic growth despite the pandemic.”
“Amidst the pandemic that we are experiencing, the mining industry strived and did its part. We are happy to know that this has been the outcome of the mining operations in the country over the past year,” Cimatu said.
“Contrary to what others are saying, this is an indication of how massive the contribution of the mining industry is to our economy,” he added.