Processing plant not feasible right now – COMP

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The local nickel industry’s plan of banding together to put up a single processing plant may be a good move, but this is not seen to happen anytime soon, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said.

COMP executive director Ronald Recidoro said that while the plan is feasible, it would face a lot of challenges given the current state of the industry.

“Not now. It is going to be a challenge to make it profitable and make it attractive for investors. Plus prices are low, there is global oversupply and Indonesia is coming back into play,” Recidoro told The STAR.

Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) chairman Isidro Alcantara earlier told The STAR that downstreaming remains to be an option following the government’s push to prioritize mineral processing rather than exporting mineral ores.

“Maybe the industry can get together as a consortium because a processing plant must have economies of scale and the capital expenditures for that will be hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

“Maybe we need to get together. Otherwise, we end up giving it to a foreign company where they will own majority and the benefits will not accrue to the country,” Alcantara added.

Recidoro noted that a lot of mining operations are not big enough to sustain a one-mine-one-plant capacity.

“A plant may cost about $1.3 billion and not all mining operations are that big. So pooling is one solution,” he said.

“But, the question is will it be competitive and will it make money? They have to consider the low price of nickel, the uncertainties in supply, and cost of energy,” Recidoro added.

The government has yet to lift the ban on new mining projects which will significantly affect nickel production in the country.

Only Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. manufactures nickel using high-pressure acid leach technology, which uses low-grade laterite ores. It is a subsidiary of Japan-based Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd.

And while prices in the global market remain volatile and the industry expects a drop in shipments for the year, the nickel sector is still optimistic it will bounce back in the next few years.

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with