PH miners ride on China's nickel ore hunger, keeps eye on trade war

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2018 12:35 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2019 01:34 PM

Car dealers and customers walk at a second-hand car market near a newly-built residential area in Hefei, Anhui province, China. Reuters/File

MANILA -- China's growing appetite for electric vehicles is helping drive demand for nickel ore in the Philippines' largest export market for the mineral, the head of an industry group said Tuesday.

An ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington, however, is a "concern" because it has the potential to slow demand, said Dante Bravo, president of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association and Global Ferronickel Holdings.

Local miners are also navigating uncertainties over stricter enforcement of environment regulations and an ongoing revision of the tax regime on mining, Bravo said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

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"Right now, China is in the best position to produce most efficiently, stainless steel products," Bravo said. Nickel ore is used to make stainless steel. "We mine the nickel ore as part of the value chain."

Asked if he expected 2019 to be better than this year, Bravo said: "I'm always positive. I'm an optimist. I'd like to see, at some point, this trade war is going to be over because that is a concern for everybody."

Miners have "more dialogue" with the current Environment Secretary, Roy Cimatu, Bravo said, calling it an "improvement of the situation."

The new tax regime on mining should be simpler, Bravo said. "Some of us are still viable, some of us may not be able to survive that," he said.