MANILA, March 21 (Reuters) – Philippine nickel producer DMCI Mining Corp, a unit of conglomerate DMCI Holdings Inc, on Thursday said it expected 2019 to be a tough year, with one of its two mines still suspended and its inventory almost depleted.
DMCI’s mines, operated by subsidiaries Berong Nickel Corp and Zambales Diversified Metals Corp, were among those ordered shut in 2016 when the government launched an industry-wide crackdown on miners as part of a push to ramp up environmental protection.
The closures and the threat of more mines being suspended in what, at the time, was the world’s top nickel ore supplier dramatically lifted prices for nickel.
The Philippines, which has 30 nickel mines, is now the world’s No. 2 nickel ore supplier, behind Indonesia which has been ramping up shipments after lifting a ban on metal exports in 2017.
The countries are the main suppliers of ores to top market China, which uses them to make stainless steel and materials for batteries.The Philippines’ environment ministry lifted the suspension order on the Berong mine in November last year, but the Zambales Diversified mine remains closed.