Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) together with Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. is eyeing new opportunities in the electric vehicle (EV) industry as the government is pushing for the country’s participation in the industry chain, particularly in the manufacture of batteries for EVs.
In a report by the Manila Bulletin, NAC CEO Marin Antonio Zamora said the company’s current use of High-Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) technology in its nickel processing operations presents opportunities for participation in the rapidly growing EV industry.
Currently, NAC operates two HPAL plants in partnership with Sumitomo Metal., in which it owns 10% minority shares in Rio Tuba and 15.6% of the Coral Bay Nickel Corp. in Taganito.
High-Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) plants in the country produce mixed sulfide containing 55% nickel, which is exported to Japan for further processing for EV battery production.
Zamora said that “it makes sense” for them to “cooperate to build another plant in the Philippines to go into processing,” adding that “it is an interesting area to pursue.”
Zamora noted that to construct a third HPAL plant, a mining site with a minimum of 100 million tons of nickel reserves is required to sustain the plant’s operations. He emphasized that this would require a large mine and the plant must be located in close proximity to the mineral deposits.
However, finding a new nickel mine site with that large mineral reserve will be challenging, Zamora said. Moreover, investing in the country is expensive due to the high costs of power, infrastructure, taxes, as well as unstable policies.
Analysts predict a shortage of nickel between 2005 to 2027, and it is imperative that action is taken in a timely manner. As such, investors in nickel processing should start this year or next, as building a plant takes three years.
Zamora further stated that in order to promote the production of EV batteries in the Philippines, the government needs to first support the production of mixed sulfide and the refinement of nickel, which would attract EV battery manufacturers to set up operations in the country.