Nickel Asia unperturbed by Duterte's tirades on mining

Warren de Guzman, ABS CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2016 05:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 06 2016 09:37 PM

Gerard Brimo (left) and Manuel Zamora Jr., president/CEO and chairman, respectively of Nickel Asia. Photo courtesy of Nickel Asia

MANILA - Nickel Asia President Gerry Brimo isn't concerned about President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's recent pronouncements against mining.

Duterte warned miners threatening the environment at a party celebrating his election victory over the weekend.

"Mining has destroyed Mindanao, they should stop it! Miners should shape up," said Duterte.

Brimo didn't flinch.

"We do not at all feel alluded to. We are willing to face tougher scrutiny to weed out bad miners from responsible miners. There are a handful of us who do things right," said Brimo.

The mining sector has been battered over the past few years by both low industrial metal prices and what's been described by some as an "anti-mining" policy under the Aquino Administration.

Brimo, also a stalwart of the Chamber of Mines, said what they want from the incoming administration is simply a fair shake.

"What we want is for government to differentiate responsible miners from the rest, for recognition that minerals are also important. Minerals are present in nearly everything these days," he said.

Still, Nickel Asia is playing it safe, accelerating spending on its renewable energy business to help the company "smoothen out" the ups and downs of the mining business, which Brimo admitted might have another tough year this 2016.

They will spend up to P5 billion on renewable energy, including solar and geothermal projects under Emerging Power Incorporated, which Nickel owns two-thirds of. In contrast, Nickel Asia is spending only about a billion pesos this year.