Philippines’ nickel ore output hike unlikely to plug Indonesia supply gap – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters/ – September 2, 2019)

MANILA, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Philippine nickel mining companies are likely to boost ore production next year when Indonesia bans exports of the raw material used in stainless steel and batteries, but may still not be able to fill up the supply gap.

The Southeast Asian neighbouring countries are the biggest suppliers of nickel ore to China, the world’s largest stainless steel producer and home to some of the biggest makers of batteries for electric vehicles.

The ban will encourage Philippine miners to start ramping up ore output when the local mining season resumes next year, Dante Bravo, president of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association told Reuters.

The Philippines, which has 29 nickel mines and two nickel processing plants, usually ends its mining season in October, when heavy rains and strong winds hamper mining and shipping operations. Production will resume in March or April next year, or at least three months following the implementation of the export ban.

Indonesian ore is generally a higher grade than ore from the Philippines, Bravo noted. “However, Chinese smelters have been able to process our lower grade ores, so supply of lower grade ores coming from the Philippines is not an issue,” said Bravo, who is also president of Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc , the Philippines’ No. 2 nickel ore producer and exporter.

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