THE nickel mining industry said the government needs to reduce barriers to entry for foreign investors if the Philippines is to play a major role in supplying key minerals for the green energy transition.

“The industry needs a lot of support from the government, be more open to exploration, and make it easy for foreign investors to come in. We need to map out what we have and what we don’t have,” Dante R. Bravo, president of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA), said in a statement.

Mr. Bravo said that the overall outlook for the nickel industry “remains compelling” with rising demand for clean energy technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), solar panels, power grid systems, wind turbines, and hydrogen-based energy.

“Currently, we have the capability to mine nickel, but there is a whole value chain… leading to the manufacturing of batteries that needs to be enabled (via) the right government policies and programs,” he added.

The Philippines has substantial reserves to service global nickel demand, he said, adding that more investment is needed to enable exploration and processing, and to further develop its nickel resources.

According to Mr. Bravo, investment in the EV industry is estimated at $300 billion, and is expected to rise to $1 trillion as EV sales double within the next five years.

In the first quarter, metal output by value rose 22.83% to P58.92 billion, supported by stronger prices and higher output of gold, nickel ore, and chromite, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Output of nickel direct shipping ore rose 5% to 3,997,829 dry metric tons, valued at P23.85 billion.

“We can expect significant growth in production if we start to attract investment in mining exploration and there is a clear viable track towards value-added processing,” he said.

Separately, Mr. Bravo said the PNIA will conduct further roundtable discussions in August during the Nickel Initiative 2023 Business Conference.

It will be attended by government, private sector, and other non-government nickel industry stakeholders.

Mr. Bravo said, “the discussions have been productive so far and we look forward to zooming in on action points that raise the competitiveness of the Philippine nickel mining sector and make it a veritable driver of responsible mining and inclusive economic development.” — Sheldeen Joy Talavera