THE nickel industry’s ability to supply high-grade products will be key to exploiting the market opportunity resulting from Indonesia’s nickel ore export ban, the mining regulator said.
“We can capitalize on the opportunity… we have nickel. What worries me is if the market will insist on high-grade nickel,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) director Wilfredo G. Moncano told reporters.
The MGB estimates that nickel ore production grew 3% to 11.306 million dry metric tons (DMT) in the first half of 2019.
The United States Geological Survey ranks Indonesia the top nickel producer in 2018 with 560,000 tons, followed by the Philippines with 340,000 tons. Both countries’ top export market for nickel is China.
Mr. Moncano noted that Philippine nickel is mostly lower-grade, but added that international buyers may still have an interest in ores with nickel content of between 1.3% and 1.5%.
Reuters reported on Monday that a major nickel mine in Tawi-Tawi, which produces high-grade ore, has suspended operations indefinitely due to an audit being conducted by the local government.
The audit is part of the preparations to implement the Bangsamoro Responsible Mining Law.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) suspended operations of all four mines in the area in a memorandum order dated Aug. 5.
It said 90% or 2.34 million wet metric tons (WMT) of high-grade ore exported to China came from Tawi-Tawi in 2018.
Mr. Moncano said suspended mining companies should speedily comply with the corrective measures required to resume production.
“If they expedite action on the corrective measures, then on the part of MGB, bibilisan namin namin ang (we will expedite) validation,” he said.
As of August, two companies are awaiting the lifting of MGB suspensions — Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. and Strong Built Mining Development Corp. Five are still complying with an agency resolution dated Nov. 12, 2018 — Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp., Krominco Inc., Mt. Sinai Exploration and Development Corp., Wellex Mining Corp., and AAMPHIL Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp.
Three companies have had their suspension orders lifted — Berong Nickel Corp., Carrascal Nickel Corp., and Emir Mineral Resources Corp.
Three mining companies are appealing their suspensions to the Office of the President — Claver Mineral Development Corp., Oriental Synergy ining Corp., and Libjo Mining Corp. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang