DMCI Mining Corp. is on track to surpass last year’s nickel ore shipments, its president said, as the company recorded robust production in 2023 while also targeting to start operating a new mine site by December.

“We’re very pleased that we will have a historical year in terms of shipments this year and that will help offset the lower prices because [we’ve recorded] volume gain,” DMCI Mining President Tulsi Das C. Reyes said in a media briefing on Friday.

His optimism comes as the mining firm’s subsidiary, Zambales Diversified Metals Corp. (ZDMC), produced more than one million tons of nickel ore in the first six months.

“Kung mataas ’yung volume mo, bababa ’yung cost per ton mo (If your volume is high, your cost per ton will go down),” he added.

Company data show its nickel ore production stood at 1.12 million wet metric tons (WMT) in the January-to-June period, nearly double the 567,000 million WMT a year earlier.

First-half output is also higher than the 1.03 million WMT produced during the full-year 2022.

Meanwhile, shipments reached 1.06 million WMT, equivalent to 73% of the total sales volume of 1.45 million WMT.

“We attribute our strong performance to improved operational efficiency and permit timing,” Mr. Reyes said.

“Shortly after [ZDMC] was granted an ECC (environmental compliance certificate) amendment, we worked on securing the auxiliary permits, local manpower and heavy equipment needed to boost our production capacity,” he said.

In January, ZDMC was granted an amended ECC that allowed it to produce two million WMT of nickel ore from the previously permitted one million WMT.

DMCI Mining has said that it is eyeing to ship out 1.5 WMT of nickel ore this year.

Meanwhile, Mr. Reyes said that the company is looking to open a mine in Zambales which is targeted to be operational by December this year, and another mine by the second quarter of next year.

DMCI Mining is currently securing a tree-cutting permit for an area inside ZDMC that is likely to produce 20 million tons of nickel ore, he said.

“I strongly believe that we have a very good chance to get this permit before year-end,” he said. “Once we get the tree-cutting permit, we can already mine.” 

The new mine site will be operated by another subsidiary, Zambales Chromite Metals Corp. It was not operating in 2019 due to the lack of permits to commence.

Mr. Reyes did not disclose the location of the other mine prospect.

He said he was bullish about ending the year with good results amid the projected higher selling prices with the closures of some mining operations in Surigao.

“With Surigao shutting down or closing for the season in October, we feel that prices will go high because the supply is naturally decreased,” he said.

“So I’m very positive for the outlook for the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year, for me, personally, because our mine sites normally operate when Surigao closes,” he added.

DMCI Mining is the mining subsidiary of Consunji-led listed holding firm DMCI Holdings, Inc. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

Neil Banzuelo