US battery tech firm mulls up to $500-M project in PH

Published April 25, 2022, 5:00 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

American battery technology companies are in talks with local nickel companies for supply as it mulls investing in the production and manufacture of battery and other technology products

in the country with potential investments of $400 million to $500 million.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez identified the American firm as ZAF Energy Systems and its affiliate Battery Grade Materials, Inc. (BGM). Lopez together with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met in Washington DC to discuss the US firms’ proposed investment projects in the country.

According to Lopez, ZAF and BGM are already in talks with some Philippine-based nickel mining companies and are looking for more possible suppliers. “They aim to partner with these companies in producing nickel hydroxide in the country using state-of-the art and environment safe technologies. Nickel hydroxide serves as an electrode material for battery technologies such as Nickel-Zinc Batteries for electric vehicles and other applications for commercial and defense-related equipment,” he said.

When fully completed including a battery factory, estimated total investments could reach up to $400-500 million and employ almost a thousand direct employees, he said.

During the meeting, the trade chief explained why Philippines is their best investment destination and reassured ZAF CEO Randy Moore of the Department’s continued support for their planned long-term business with the ongoing major economic reforms in the country under the administration of President Duterte.

Since July 2021, ZAF and BGM have been in close and active collaboration with the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in New York to facilitate the partnership opportunities, requirements, and negotiations for the planned investment. ZAF is currently in further coordination with BOI and PTICs for their planned due diligence visit to the country.

“We have been targeting companies that can process our minerals instead of exporting them as raw ore. This will encourage high-value minerals processing in the country and is in line with our efforts to bring in more investments under the leadership and guidance of President Duterte,” Lopez said.

“Apart from having vast resources of green metals such copper, cobalt, and nickel, which are key inputs to the production and manufacture of battery and other technology products, US companies stand to benefit from a partnership with the Philippines with the new incentives they can benefit from under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act,” Lopez said.

He added, “With a registration with the BOI, activities addressing value-chain gaps, such as ZAF-BGM’s proposed hydroxide processing plant and battery manufacturing projects, may both qualify for Tier II under Industrial Value Chain Gaps of the proposed 2022 Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP).”

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the High-Level Diplomatic Reception for Government Officials and Business Leaders on 19 April 2022 in Washington, DC. Secretary Lopez was joined by BOI Managing Head and Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rose Edillon, Commercial Counselor Kenneth Yap, and Commercial Consul Benedict Uy.