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Nickel industry keeps up its contribution to PH economy

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Export grows amid production slowdown in 2020

The nickel mining site in Easter Samar (Photo file/THEPHILBIZNEWS)

By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

The advent of coronavirus that made the world stand still and disrupted many business and economic activities, the country’s mining sector was not also spared. Inevitable slowdown in production due pandemic happened but the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) reports an increase in export value in 2020.

According to a report from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine nickel sector has produced a total of 18.5 million Dry Metric Tons (DMT) in 2020, a 14% decline in production in comparison to 21.6 million DMT production in the previous year 2019. The decrease in production was mainly brought about by the enhanced community quarantine between March to May 2020 where the movement of mineral products were limited throughout the country.

In terms of export value, the industry posted almost Php 25 billion pesos between January to September of 2020 which is an increase from the Php 24 billion pesos posted from the same period in 2019.

According to PNIA President Atty. Dante Bravo, the increased in performance of export value for the nickel industry was mainly driven by the increase in prices of nickel in the market. The improved world price of nickel in 2020 came from the steady demand in China keeping the local nickel sector’s performance with stable production of nickel throughout the year.

Meanwhile, PNIA members still contribute almost 50% percent of the total nickel production in the Philippines. Based on the recent MGB report, PNIA members produced a total of 7.9 million DMT with an export value amount of Php 11.6 billion pesos in 2020 while in 2019 members of the nickel association produced 9.6 million DMT with an export value of Php 10.6 billion pesos. 

“The industry is grateful that we were able to perform well despite the pandemic and that we were able to contribute to the economy during these trying times. We’re all aware that a large number of businesses closed down in 2020 and some are closing down this year. Most importantly, we’re glad that the nickel industry was able to operate and continue to help our local communities survive during the challenges of the pandemic last year,” emphasizes Atty. Dante R. Bravo, President of PNIA.

The industry’s Social Development Management Program (SDMP), one of the mandated programs under the Philippine Mining Law was also unhampered even during the pandemic. Through this government directive, the mining industry provides livelihood, education, health, public infrastructure and socio-cultural assistance to local communities. In 2020, PNIA members have spent a total of 166.8M pesos in implementing these SDMP efforts particularly in Palawan, Zambales and CARAGA region.

Bravo adds that members of PNIA member companies contributed an estimated amount of Php 49 million pesos in 2020 to COVID 19-related efforts to host and neighboring communities including Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao, when the mining industry redirected 30% of their SDMP funds for COVID relief assistance in April last year. The association further added a total of Php 2.8 million pesos for other COVID and Typhoon Ulysses relief efforts. 

These initiatives focused on food security, protective equipment, medicines and medical assistance to the community and even to local government units (LGUs). Some of these efforts included build-up of isolation rooms and testing centers, provision for ambulance, transportation, supplement supply of thermal scanners, test kits and personal protective equipment (PPEs) to local hospitals as well as provision of food packs, facemasks and hygiene kits to local health workers and front liners. 

For 2021, the industry remains optimistic as nickel consumption is seen to likely increase with the growing demand from foreign markets driven by the infrastructure sector and improved demand from the electric vehicle industry as well as the home appliance equipment manufacturing sector.

“We are hopeful that there will be a continuous demand for the year so that we can also keep our performance and help our local communities by providing them jobs that they can keep. The mining industry has kept to employ 190,000 people in the entire country and this is very important especially that the Philippine government is trying to implement economic recovery efforts from the impact of the pandemic,” adds PNIA President Dante Bravo. 

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