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The Philippines have one of the world’s largest nickel reserves and last year the nickel production totalled to over 330,000 metric tonnes, and for the next few years the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines sees the country producing 25 million metric tonnes of nickel direct shipping ore annually. One such operating nickel miner is TVI Pacific Inc. who own the Agata nickel mine as a joint venture in the Philippines and recently completed its 7th shipment of nickel ore since October 2014.
In the lead up to the 12th Annual China Nickel Conference we had the pleasure to ask TVI Pacific’s Chairman Mr Clifford James a couple of questions about the challenges of nickel mining in the Philippines and how well positioned they are to address the shortfall of production in Asia.
What have been the most challenging aspects of mining in the Philippines? While the Philippines provides exceptional opportunities in terms of vast mineral resources and dedicated skilled professionals, there lies the challenge – more so, an opportunity – to improve public infrastructure like roads, bridges and airports. This is in order to efficiently mobilize trade and eventual progress. The cost and access to reliable energy sources is also one of the challenges that mining companies need to overcome.
Finally, the changing legislative environment and its potential effect on the mining tax regime creates an air of uncertainty for investors. But we have reason to believe that the ongoing dialogue between government and industry will lead to long-term policy development on mining that is anchored on reciprocity and mutual, inclusive growth.
How well positioned are the Philippines (and TVI) to address the shortfall of production in Asia? While Indonesia’s export ban on nickel laterite took out 15% of global supply, the Philippines has nearly 1 billion million tonnes of reserves to cover this shortfall. However, it will take time and investment for many new projects to come on stream. TVIRD will be one of the companies to address this shortfall through the development of the Agata Nickel Laterite DSO Project, which currently has close to 10M mt in proven and probable reserves. In 2015, TVIRD is ramping up production of its nickel laterite direct shipping ore operations to over 2.5 million wet metric tonnes in 2015, which would place it amongst the top five producers in the country. This will certainly go towards alleviating some of the pressure on stainless steel and nickel pig iron producers in China as they grapple with the overall shortfall.
Mr James, this will be your first time speaking and attending the China Nickel Conference. What are you most looking forward to discussing with other attendees at the event? I anticipate a participative and collaborative discussion among peers and contemporaries in the global mining industry.