Global Ferronickel, Russian firm ink deal for processing ores

GLOBAL Ferronickel Holdings Inc. (FNI) and Russia’s Vi Holding Llc. Manila recently signed an agreement for the implementation of joint business projects in the processing of lateritic ores.

The parties signed the agreement on Monday alongside the Philippines and Russia meetings in the framework of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits being hosted by the Philippines.

President Duterte and Prime Minister Medvedev witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation and Partnership between FNI Chairman Joseph C. Sy and Vi Holding Board Chairman Valery N. Krasnov.

Formerly Southeast Asia Cement Holdings Inc., FNI is the second-largest nickel producer in the Philippines and the largest single lateritic-mine exporter in the world.

Vi Holding Llc., meanwhile, is a member of an international investment and industrial group of companies from Russia with interests in mineral exploration and processing, real estate, energy and in innovative solutions.

In a statement, FNI said the agreement also seeks to enhance mutually beneficial business cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of mining, metallurgy and energy.

FNI hopes to take advantage of Vi Holding’s patented technology of processing nickel-bearing ore that requires significantly lower capital investment coupled with lower production costs. This technology makes it possible to quickly and efficiently build mining and metallurgical complexes comprising independent coal-fired power supply facilities.

The two are now in the process of forming a Joint Working Group to undertake initial testing of ore samples and conduct feasibility studies.

“We are one with the government in pushing for industrialization of the mining industry,” Sy said. “Going into value-added processing has long been part of our business objectives, and we are very excited at the prospects this new technology brings.”

According to Sy, several key officials of Vi Holding recently visited FNI’s subsidiary in Cagdianao, Surigao del Norte, Platinum Group Metals Corp. (PGMC). PGMC just announced the completion of its full-year shipment of 5.970 million wet metric tons (WMT), or 109 vessels of nickel ore in 2017.

This compares to 4.309 million WMT shipped in 2016 and 5.352 million WMT in 2015.

The country’s mining industry is pinning its hope on Duterte’s commitment to weed out the industry of irresponsible miners, allowing the operations of responsible mining companies with financial and technical expertise and capability, while ensuring the protection of the environment.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which represents some of the country’s mining industry’s big players, is currently seeking reversals of mining policies issued by former Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez, including the closure or suspension of more than two dozen large-scale mining operations, cancellation of 75 “inactive” mineral production-sharing agreements and ban on prospective open-pit mines for select ores—including gold, copper, silver and complex ores.

Currently, the mining industry’s contribution in terms of GDP remains below 1 percent.

Lopez had also upheld the moratorium on new mining projects as mandated by Executive Order 79, which requires the passage of a new mining-tax measure that will increase government’s take in mining.