A US company teamed up with a local mining firm to set up a nickel processing facility in the Philippines, according to Department of Trade and Industry officials who are part of the Philippine trade mission to the US.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said in a briefing late Wednesday night they could not disclose the details of the agreement which is between the two private firms.
“We can only provide the enabling environment so that they can do it. If we can provide incentives to allow the proposals or projects [to] move in a certain direction, we will do so,” he said.
The DTI is in talks with other nickel processing proponents from Europe, China and Japan.
Pascual said nickel processing is a good economic mover that could create 10 to 20 times in added value compared to nickel ore exports. He said the Philippines is pushing for a critical minerals agreement with the US.
“We want the further processing of these raw minerals so that we can produce metals like nickel that are essential ingredients or components of batteries needed for electric vehicles. The whole world is moving toward EV and the supply of critical green metals like nickel. Nickel will become very much in demand,” he said.
The proposed CMA is an ongoing initiative of the Philippines, as it continues to engage the US to create a meaningful partnership on nickel processing, Pascual said.
Pascual said while discussions on the economy, trade and investments took center stage during the US visit of President Ferdinand Marcos. Jr., negotiations also touched on the CMA and minerals processing.
He said the Philippines is in a stronger position to press for a CMA with the US, as the former is one of the world’s biggest nickel producers and holds one of the largest mineable nickel reserves globally.
The Philippines mined 330,000 metric tons of nickel in 2022, down from 370,000 MT in 2021. As of 2021, Philippine nickel reserves were estimated at 4.8 million MT.