Miner investing $250M to put up steel plant

1 December 2016

A mining firm plans to invest $250 million (equivalent to about P12.5 billion at the current exchange rate) to put up a steel-manufacturing project in Leyte, a move that will enable the Philippines to inch closer to its goal of becoming an emerging industrialized nation.

Charito B. Plaza, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), disclosed that Nicua Corp. planned to produce from at least four mining sites in Leyte a total of 6.4 million metric tons of magnetite concentrate, which would then be processed to produce 3 million tons of steel and 27,000 tons of vanadium a year.

“They just presented last week their proposed steel industry that they’ll put up in Leyte because they have the abundance in iron there. Majority of the raw materials needed in manufacturing steel is iron, then chromite and nickel, which is also abundant in (the Caraga) region. Once we develop the steel industry, it will propel our economy and of course industrialization because steel is needed in everything,” Plaza explained in a briefing Monday night.

Based on what was presented to Plaza, Nicua’s planned steel project is expected to employ 4,000 workers and inject more than $5 billion annually into the economy at full operations.

In its project brief, Nicua noted that the country would, for the first time in its history, become a producer and exporter of steel, steel alloys and steel products and join the ranks of the emerging industrialized nations.

The project, it added, would be majority owned and managed by Filipinos and provide a major boost to the economically depressed region of the Eastern Visayas and have a significant flow on effect to the rest of the country.Being self sufficient in steel, national foreign exchange savings would exceed $1.5 billion annually, it said.

Its proponents noted that the proposed steel project would have a considerable economic advantage. For one, it would benefit from the availability of nearby cheap and abundant geothermal power and low cost production of iron ore in the vicinity. Also, the project was expected to generate substantial secondary industries, the brief stated.

According to Plaza, the proposed project would help offset the $3 billion worth of steel being imported by the country yearly.“Peza is going to assist (the company) all the way. We will put up a technical working group because steel is a basic (raw material). (Such a project) is one of the priorities of Peza,” she said.

Nicua has been producing magnetite, which is used for iron production, from its sites in MacArthur and Javier in Leyte since 2010. Its production is exported to China