The Philippines’ nickel ore production in the first quarter rose 3% from a year earlier to 2.97 million dry metric tonnes, despite zero output from more than half of the country’s 28 mines, the government said on Thursday.
Only 10 mines reported output for the quarter, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said in its quarterly production report.
The Philippines is 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.
Buyers in China and Japan process Philippine nickel ore to make stainless steel and for use in battery materials.
Eighteen Philippine nickel mines did not operate either because of unfavourable weather or they were under maintenance or suspended due to environmental issues, the MGB said.
The country’s copper concentrate output in the first quarter grew 16% to 81,059 dry metric tonnes, while gold production jumped 12% to 5,651 kilograms, it said.
The MGB welcomed the recent passage of a law exempting gold sales by small-scale miners to the central bank from excise and income taxes to beef up the country’s foreign exchange reserves and prevent smuggling. “(It) will not only boost the GIR (gross international reserves) of the country but also increase the country’s annual total metallic production value,” it said.
The agency is hopeful that a pending proposal to change the country’s mining tax regime, which will increase the government’s share in mining revenues, will get congressional approval.