THE PHILIPPINE Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) said it expects growth momentum for the industry to continue with the issuance of an executive order lifting the freeze on new mining agreements.

“We are hopeful of maintaining this growth momentum especially after the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 130 that lifted the ban on new mineral agreement as it will pave the way for new mining projects and entice more investments in the mining industry,” PNIA President Dante R. Bravo said in a statement Thursday.  

He said PNIA members accounted for about half of the Philippines’ nickel production last year, and 31% of the total in the first quarter.  

“Despite the pandemic, the country’s nickel industry remained resilient with a reported increase of 4% in production and a 22% rise in export value,” he said, citing 2020 data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).  

Citing the MGB, Mr. Bravo said the value of the nickel industry’s direct-shipping ore was P38.86 billion in 2020 against the year earlier P31.79 billion.  

He added that the nickel industry produced 27.17 million dry metric tons (DMT) of nickel ore last year, against 26.21 million DMT a year earlier.  

“The increases were driven by the continuous uptrend in nickel prices and by the robust demand from China’s stainless steel producers,” Mr. Bravo said.  

The MGB has said that the overall mining industry accounted for P102.3 billion or 0.6% of Philippine GDP in 2020.  

The PNIA said in 2020, its members spent P167 million on their social development and management programs, P49 million on COVID-19 assistance, and P532 million on their environmental protection and enhancement programs, with more than seven million trees planted to date.  

“PNIA members are equally committed to ensuring sustainability in our communities through community and environmental preservation efforts. The projects we implement for the community and the environment are as equally important to PNIA members as their operations,” Mr. Bravo said.  

“(Our) members will soon release their performance report on their alignment with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) before the year ends as part of our collective commitment to industry sustainability efforts,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave