Nickel Asia and Global Ferronickel Holdings suspended nickel mining operations in the Surigao del Norte province, in the Philippines after the government sent suspension orders. These measures were taken to control the spread of COVID-19, according to media reports. Additionally, the government’s suspension order has also banned the entry of foreign vessels into Surigao del Norte, including those which ship ores to China. The two miners account for over half of the country’s nickel ore output.
In early 2019, Nickel Asia had estimated the Philippines could export 21mn wmt of nickel ore to China, second to Indonesia which may export 26mn wmt (wet metric tonne). In August 2019, however, Indonesia announced it would ban exports of nickel ore from January 2020. The Philippines looks to fill in this void.
Global Ferronickel lowered its nickel ore shipment target to 5mn wmt from its earlier estimations of 6mn wmt, according to media reports. The company has appealed the local government to allow mining operations during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nickel is used for the production of nickel pig iron, which in turn is used for the manufacture of stainless steel.