PHILEX Mining Corp. is looking into nickel mining projects as the demand for metals grows with the rise of the electric vehicle industry, its chairman said.

“We have other mining prospects now that we’ve started the Silangan copper-gold project. We are looking at gold, copper and now, even nickel. With the advent of e-vehicles, there will be a huge demand for metals. We know that is the future of the automotive industry,” Philex Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a televised interview on ANC’s Market Edge.

“Some discussions are fairly advanced and we want to get going on those projects,” he added, citing possible prospects in Mindanao and Benguet province.

The Silangan project in Surigao del Norte will be ready for commercial production by late 2024 to early 2025. It has an initial investment of $224 million.

“We have started to invest in the previous government, so before this investment batch of $224 [million], we’ve already invested an aggregate P17.9 billion,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

For the rest of the year, Mr. Pangilinan said he maintains a positive outlook for the mining industry’s growth and foresees more opportunities in the country.

“Given the geo-political tensions that’s driving commodities — like prices of coal and gas are up and inflation is also up as well — all of these factors drive up commodities. I’d like to think that 2022 would be another good year for the mining industry,” he said.

“We are one of the most mineralized countries in the world, yet mining is less than 1% of the gross domestic product. We export raw nickel or concentrates for smelting, but value added to industry is quite modest,” he said.

On the industry’s environmental sustainability, Mr. Pangilinan said mining could be done with the proper regulations in place.

“The whole mining policy and attitude rests on whether you believe that it is beneficial to the welfare of your people. It’s got to be well-regulated and the industry should self-police its own miners,” he said.

Philex earlier disclosed that it was targeting the listing of its P3.15-billion rights offer shares on April 5.

At the stock exchange on Wednesday, its shares dropped 1.10% or P0.06 to P5.38 apiece.

Philex is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

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