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Nickel industry roadmap pushed

The Philippine Nickel Industry Association is coming up with an industry roadmap to guide both the industry and the government on what to do to maximize the industry impact on the economy.

Charmaine Olea-Capili, executive director of the association, said Wednesday that although the work on the roadmap has yet to be started, “it will touch on policies, research and development and sustainability.”

“It would be better if we have consistent policies so that the industry will be attractive to investors,” Olea-Capili told TIMES at the weekly Wednesdays @ Habi at Kape – Abreeza, adding that the association, which is partnering with the University of the Philippines for the roadmap, hopes to start the work next month and is looking at six months to a year to complete it.

She said the association is hoping that the roadmap will become a “perpetual master plan” for the industry “so that when new government officials come in, the industry will not be disturbed and will be allowed to continue its role in helping the economy of the country.”

The roadmap, she added, will also look at necessary elements to value-add nickel as production at present is all exported with 90% sold to China. She said value-adding is part of the research and development facet of the roadmap.

Based on government estimates, the country produced about 25 million metric tons last year, with the association seven member-companies producing about 11 million metric tons.

Arturo M. Milan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said one facet that needs to be addressed when it comes to mineral production, particularly value-adding, is to come up with specialized economic zones where these plants can be set up.

“We need to be ready (with these economic zones) so that we become attractive (to investors) as investment hub and that when investors come in, they can readily put up their businesses,” Milan said.

Olea-Capili said that there is a need to ensure that the industry gets must attention because in areas where it is present, it has a huge contribution to economy. In the Caraga Region where nickel extraction has been taking place, the industry contributes about a fifth of its gross regional domestic product, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau reported.

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