Nickel miner Marcventures eyes Philippines' third processing plant

MANILA, April 7 (Reuters) - Marcventures Holdings Inc, one of the Philippines’ biggest nickel miners, said on Thursday it was considering building a processing plant and acquiring a mining company to boost output and exports.

If the plan to build a nickel refinery proceeded, the plant would be the country’s third.

The company’s board had granted company president, Isidro Alcantara, the authority “to seek potential investments in establishing a nickel processing plant in the Philippines” it told Manila’s stock exchange.

The statement also said the company would look into acquiring a mining company or property to supply additional ore for the processing plant.

Local nickel ore producers have become the biggest suppliers to top consumer China after Indonesia imposed a ban on metal ore exports in 2014.

The Philippines has 27 nickel mines with a combined annual output worth more than $1 billion, but only one miner, Nickel Asia Corp, has processing plants.

Nickel Asia partly owns the country’s first plant, which has an annual capacity of 24,000 tonnes of contained nickel, while the second, also partly owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd, has an annual capacity of 51,000 tonnes of mixed nickel-cobalt sulfide.

Bills have been filed in the Philippine Congress seeking to impose an Indonesia-style ban on exports of unprocessed metal ores, but one of the backers said the measure might not be implemented for about seven years if it were to become law.

Proponents want miners to build domestic processing plants, which they said could help triple revenue from mineral exports.

Last year, Marcventures won government approval to increase annual ore output by 67 percent to 5 million tonnes. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Ed Davies)