DEMAND FOR Philippine nickel ore will remain high in China if Indonesia maintains its nickel export ban, industry officials said Monday.

“As long as Indonesia keeps its nickel export ban, demand for Philippine nickel ore from China’s NPI (nickel pig iron) plants will remain strong,” Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) Vice-President for Communications Rocky G. Dimaculangan told BusinessWorld in a mobile message.

Indonesia banned nickel ore exports last year to help develop a domestic processing industry, which would allow it to capture more value-added from ore rather than exporting the ore to be processed in China.

As early as April 2020, S&P Global Market Intelligence noted that China had grown more dependent on the Philippines to supply nickel laterite ore for its NPI producers in the “absence of nickel ore from Indonesia.”

According to Mr. Dimaculangan, the main driver of nickel prices will be electric vehicles, with the global price benchmark set at the London Metal Exchange (LME). 

“Given the growing demand for nickel from the electric vehicle market, LME nickel prices (are) expected to remain strong,” he said. 

On Tuesday, COMP said it expects gold prices to “remain close to or even above 2020 levels” this year. 

“We anticipate central banks and governments to sustain their high monetary and deficit-spending stimulus programs even as economies slowly recover from the COVID pandemic following the worldwide vaccinations,” Mr. Dimaculangan said. — Angelica Y. Yang