Nickel miners pinning hopes on greater adoption of e-vehicles

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Automobile exhibit
Automobile exhibit during the 6th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit. -- ELECTRIC VEHICLE ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

NICKEL miners said their confident outlook is based on the rise of electric vehicles, despite depressed global prices for the metal.

Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) President Dante R. Bravo said that e-vehicles are the basis for the industry’s positive views even as steelmakers, the main customers for nickel, are roiled by trade wars. Nickel is a component of stainless steel.

“We are very bullish on nickel because of the emergence of the electric vehicle where nickel is used for making batteries,” he said during the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.

The Philippines, the world’s second-largest supplier, exports 90% of its nickel ore to China.

Mr. Bravo, who also serves as president of Golden Ferronickel Holdings, Inc., added that he expects nickel prices to “increase by 8%” due to supply concerns.

However, due to a decline in ore yields, nickel miners also expect exports to drop to 30-35 million metric tons this year from 36 million MT in 2017.

“If you can’t ship your low-grade ore, you will have either have to stockpile it, put it aside or let it stay there so your development is delayed a bit,” he added.

More than 50% of the country’s mineral shipments are medium-grade ores, higher than previous records,while low-grade ores account for around 40% of total exports, Mr. Bravo said.

“Of course we will know by the end of the year. There’s still July to September in Mindanao where they can mine. But at the moment, that’s my view,” he added.

In a chance interview, Mr. Bravo said that he does not think the country will miss out on mining investment despite the ongoing moratorium on mining permits and delays in the audit of miners by the government.

“For now, the investors aren’t that excited because there are a lot of things that are yet to be clarified. So we have to finish the [Mining Interagency Coordinating Council] review, and have a continued dialogue between the industry and the government so that everyone would understand. Once we fix it, I think that’s when the investors will start coming in again,” he added. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato