Technical working group to draft national nickel industry roadmap

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 January) – The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) is initiative the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to draft the national nickel industry roadmap to propel the growth of sustainable mining in the Philippines, PNIA Executive Director Cha Olea said.

In an interview on Friday, Olea said the group will be tasked to consolidate inputs from various stakeholders, particularly in coming up with sound business policies to shore up the growth of the nickel mining industry.

“One of the challenges is the lack of business policies …  That’s one of the goals of the roadmap, to come up with a stable business policy or mining industry specifically to the nickel mining industry and to the industries that are reliant on nickel,” she said.

The prpoposed TWG will be composed of representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Environment and Natural Resources as heads, and representatives from the PNIA and other business groups, including the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Olea said.

Cha Olea, Executive Director of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

She said they hope the TWG would be able to complete the draft by the middle of this year.

Olea explained that the roadmap is necessary to incorporate the development of the nickel industry in the National Investment Priority Plan of the government.

She emphasized the need for collaboration of the  private and public sectors to create the roadmap since neither the industry nor the government can do it on its own.

“What we want to do is to consolidate all the inputs of the government, business sector, and non-government organizations,” she added.

She said the industry hopes the roadmap can make the Philippines globally competitive by setting parameters that will ensure sustainable operations and compliance of mining companies with government policies.

“The nickel industry roadmap will spell out how to promote sustainable mining, so we need to consider the environment and economic side of it. We need to have stable policies for the mining industry so that it can fully take off and contribute highly to the economy of the country,” she added.

She said the roadmap could help “strategically position” the country in the global market.

“What we have is raw ore in the Philippines,” she said, adding there is a need for a proper industry framework “that could really support the industry in terms of value-added processing.”

MINING SEASON. Dry season is considered as the glory days for mining companies in Surigao del Norte because they can maximize production. Photo taken Wednesday afternoon (4 June 2014) at Barangay Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte, where the Platinum Group Metals Corporation is mining nickel ore to be shipped abroad. MindaNews file photo by ROEL CATOTO

She said the Philippines is one of the biggest producers of nickel in the world, producing an estimated volume of 30 million metric tons last year, of which, around 90% were exported to China and the remaining 10% to Japan, Australia, and European Union.

She said at least 70% of the nickel ore extracted from the Philippines will be used for stainless steel, 3% for other components, 6% for batteries of EVs (electric vehicles),  2% for castings, 6% for plating, 9% non-ferrous metals, and 4% for alloy steel.

She said the new opportunities in the global market will benefit the domestic nickel industry.

The mining industry in the Philippines, Olea said,  employs some 250,000 workers.  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)