The Philippines’ top nickel ore producers, Nickel Asia Corp and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc, are suspending mining and export operations in a southern province to comply with coronavirus-containment measures.
The moves came just two days after announcing they were resuming operations because an earlier local suspension order had been lifted.
In separate statements, the miners said they heeded an appeal from the Surigao del Norte government to halt operations, which was made after the province was placed in “enhanced community quarantine”.
The provincial government is enforcing starting this week restrictions on movement similar to those being implemented in the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, where the bulk of the country’s more than 3,700 coronavirus cases is concentrated.
Surigao del Norte hosts the country’s biggest nickel mines, which supply ore to Chinese nickel pig iron producers and smelters elsewhere.
Nickel Asia, the country’s largest ore miner and exporter, said the operations of its two units in Surigao del Norte, Taganito Mining Corp (TMC) and Hinatuan Mining Corp (HMC), are suspended until April 30.
TMC will, however, continue to transport its existing limonite stockpiles to Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp’s mineral processing plant, partly owned by Nickel Asia, located adjacent to the mine site during the suspension period, it said.
“While the temporary suspension of operations will adversely affect TMC’s and HMC’s ore exports for the month of April, upon resumption of their operations every effort to recover will be made … by making necessary adjustment to their respective operations,” Nickel Asia said.
Nickel Asia’s two other mining units, Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp in Palawan province and Cagdianao Mining Corp in Dinagat Islands, remain operational, it said.
Global Ferronickel, the country’s no. 2 ore producer with just one mine, did not say when it plans to resume operations.
(By Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kim Coghill)