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Nickel Ore Output Grows in the Philippines

Nickel ore output from the Philippines, one of the largest producers of the commodity, grew 3 percent in 2019’s first half.

Nickel ore output from the Philippines, one of the world’s largest producers of the commodity, grew 3 percent in 2019’s first half, according to government data.

The country was cited as having produced 11.31 million dry metric tonnes (dmt) of nickel ore between January and June, according to Reuters, compared to 11.01 million tonnes during the same time frame in 2018. Last year, nickel ore output fell 4 percent to 25.9 million dmt, putting it in second place behind Indonesia for production.

This year’s growth helped the country reclaim the top spot globally. The upward movement also comes in spite of the fact that 16 of the 31 nickel mines in the Philippines were shuttered during 2019’s first half for either maintenance or environmental issues.

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Several mines had their operations suspended last year by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the basis of complying with environmental regulations. Three mines have had their suspensions lifted over the last nine months, while two others have been recommended to reopen by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

According to Environment Undersecretary Analiza Teh, five other suspended mines have yet to fully comply with the necessary requirements to have their suspensions lifted.

“We expect output in the number one global producer, the Philippines, to begin to rise in 2019 as some of the currently suspended mines become operational,” Fitch Solutions Macro Research said in a note obtained by Reuters.

Fitch went on to add that nickel ore output in the Philippines should remain modest over the next few years due to strict regulations and high levels of policy uncertainty. This, according to Fitch, will constrain project development; the research firm forecasted annual growth of 2.5 percent in output from 2019 to 2028.

The news comes shortly after fellow major producer Indonesia officially announced a nickel ore export ban docketed to start on January 1, 2020. A move designed to push miners into processing their ore domestically, the ban is anticipated to have an impact on global supply in the coming years.

“From 2020, the export ban is expected to result in a loss of 16,000 tonnes, 190,000 tonnes in 2021, 112,000 tonnes in 2022 and 85,000 tonnes per year from 2024 onwards. We do not believe that the total forecast loss in production in 2021 can be offset by a production increase in Indonesia,” a report from Wood Mackenzie read.

As of September 9, nickel was trading at US$17,890 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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