The nickel industry in the Philippines, one of the most highly mineralized countries in the world, will keep its growth momentum this year despite the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) said it is optimistic that the nickel sector’s resilient growth amidst the pandemic will continue to contribute greatly to the country’s economic recovery efforts.

Without citing an exact figure, PNIA President Dante R. Bravo said that from January to March of this year, the group’s members, who are some of the major nickel players in the Philippines, already supplied approximately half of the Philippines’ nickel production and 31 percent of total mineral production recorded in 2020. The Philippine mining industry contributed ₱102.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020 despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on June 21.

Bravo said the increase was driven by the continuous uptrend in nickel prices and by the robust demand from China’s stainless steel producers.

In the report, the DENR-MGB estimated the metallic mineral production value of gold, nickel ore, mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide, scandium oxalate, chromite, and iron at ₱132.69 billion.

The total value of minerals, mineral products, and non-metallic mineral manufacture exported in the past year was at US$5.2 billion.

Meanwhile, the minerals industry contributed about ₱25.52 billion from national and local taxes, fees and royalties.

The DENR-MGB also reported that the mining sector has allocated ₱379 billion for the implementation of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Program as of December 2020.

It said the mining and quarrying activities generated 184,000 jobs and around ₱25.71 billion was committed for the Social Development Management Program (SDMP).

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the report shows how the mining industry plays a “huge role in the country’s economic growth despite the pandemic.”

“Amidst the pandemic that we are experiencing, the mining industry strived and did its part. We are happy to know that this has been the outcome of the mining operations in the country over the past year,” Cimatu said of the report that cited the economic, social and environmental contributions of the Philippine mining industry.