Two potential investors evaluating $10 billion in nickel processing projects

THE Department of Trade and Industry said it hopes to land $10 billion worth of investment in nickel processing operations from two interested parties.

 Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo told reporters in chance remarks in Taguig City on Wednesday that two companies have expressed interest in operating nickel processing businesses, one of which is Chinese.

Domestic nickel processing will allow the Philippines to capture more value than the current arrangement of exporting ore. Domestic processing could also support Philippine ambitions to join the global supply chain for electric vehicles.

According to Mr. Rodolfo, the two companies are investing about $5 billion each in their respective nickel processing operations.

He said the Chinese investor is seeking partners and has opened a representative office in the Philippines, while the non-Chinese investor is currently conducting preliminary studies.

Mr. Rodolfo said the Chinese investor could register its project with the Board of Investments as early as this year if it is able to sign a memorandum of understanding with its local partners.   

Mr. Rodolfo added that the government is currently studying imposing a tax of up to 10% on nickel ore exports.

“When we implement a policy, we will have to make sure that it will have a commercial impact meaning that it will bring in the investments. We need to make sure that whatever policy that we issue will really have the desired outcome, which is to have nickel processing (businesses) that will increase the value-added of our nickel ores,” Mr. Rodolfo said.  

Nickel is used in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

In 2022, nickel accounted for 49.4% or P117.58 billion of the Philippines’ P238.05 billion in metallic mineral production, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave