SusNi - Developing a Sustainable pathway for the Philippine Nickel sector

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Minerals & Waste

Abstract

Global demand for nickel (Ni) will increase rapidly by 2030, principally driven by its use in rechargeable batteries, needed for automotive electrification and clean energy technologies as part of the global drive towards decarbonisation. However, there are concerns that this growth, coupled with the environmental consequence of mineral extraction, processing and waste production is likely to increase the pressure on the resource base of our economies and jeopardise future gains in well-being. This will be a particular challenge for resource-rich countries, such as the Philippines.

As the world's second largest producer of nickel and with vast, undeveloped Ni mineral resources, this market growth also presents a major economic opportunity for the Philippines. However, further expansion of the nickel sector must be responsibly managed and meet long-term sustainable development goals by integrating environmental, social and economic considerations. This includes maximising the economic benefits to the country, ensuring positive impacts on local livelihoods, minimising and managing environmental and health impacts, reducing conflicts with other sectors, and limiting carbon footprint.

The Ni mining sector in the Philippines already faces substantial interconnected challenges related to environmental impact, social licence to operate and a lack of integrated resource governance. The Caraga Region, occupying the north-eastern part of Mindanao in the Philippines, is the most important part of the country for Ni production. It therefore provides an excellent case study area to develop a tailored framework for long-term, responsible and inclusive mineral development, based on the concept of Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA). Via a five-month partnership and project (called SusNi - Developing a Sustainable pathway for the Philippine Nickel sector) development grant the British Geological Survey (UK), working with Caraga State University and the Mines Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the Philippines will identify the key knowledge gaps, refine the research questions that need to be addressed, and bring on board the multidisciplinary partnerships required to develop a SESA framework for the Ni sector in the Caraga Region. These activities will form the basis for submitting a fully developed, co-designed UK-Philippine research proposal for a strategic large grant.

Publications

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Description 1. The project was predicated on extensive stakeholder consultation with local academics, communities, policy makers and industry. This was achieved by the successful delivery of a series of workshops, namely:

- A 'National Ni Stakeholders' Forum', providing a Philippines-wide perspective on topics such as mining law, environmental management frameworks, mineral governance, sustainable mining and the current and the future trajectory of the nickel sector (e.g. presentations from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples).

- A 'Regional Ni Stakeholders' Forum' provided an opportunity to explore topics such as existing environmental monitoring practices, mine rehabilitation, indirect socio-economic contributions from the Ni sector and mining company-led social development and management programmes, in the specific context of Caraga (e.g. presentations from the MGB: Caraga, Agata Mining Ventures INC, Cagdianao Mining Corporation etc.).

These workshops were all conducted virtually (including deployment of field-base team from CSU to involve indigenous peoples with limited web connectivity), involved some 70 attendees and 12 invited speakers representing a diverse range of organisations and stakeholders in the Philippines nickel sector.

- A UK-Philippine PPD project consortium knowledge exchange event involved strategic social environmental assessment practitioners from BGS describing their first-hand experience and lessons learnt from application of the process to mineral development in Latin America. This also provided the SusNi research team with an initial opportunity to analyse the findings from the stakeholder consultation process.

2. Submission of a large, co-designed research proposal to UKRI, based on the findings of the above activities, collaboration with Philippines academic counterparts, mining companies and analysis of the key knowledge gaps associated with the future development of the nickel industry in the Philippines. The proposal outlined a holistic, whole systems approach, underpinned by stakeholder participation and informed by new baseline data and modelling. Using this approach, combined with scenario analysis SusNi the projected planned to define a roadmap for the nickel sector in the Caraga Region, based on the principles of strategic social and environmental assessment.

3. Despite the Strategic Large Grant proposal not being funded, we have established very strong partnerships with academics and companies based in the Philippines and we plan to explore alternative funding routes to deliver aspects of the proposed research in the future.
Exploitation Route Although the large grant was not successful, we propose to develop research ideas and collaborations developed during the PPD using internal BGS funding.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Stakeholder engagement and feedback was integral to the design of the Strategic Large Grant Proposal to ensure it was relevant to the Philippines and various stakeholder groups and to clearly understand the challenges, knowledge gaps and how these may be addressed by a Strategic Large Grant. Environmental, social and governance issues associated with the extractives sector were borne out in discussions with stakeholders, during a series of workshops. These comprised introductory presentations on relevant topics from leading Philippine experts and key organisations, and breakout groups to collect stakeholder feedback and evidence on a series of predetermined questions related to key issues.
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description National Ni Stakeholders' Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A 'National Ni Stakeholders' Forum', providing a Philippines-wide perspective on topics such as mining law, environmental management frameworks, mineral governance, sustainable mining and the current and the future trajectory of the nickel sector (e.g. presentations from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Regional Ni Stakeholders' Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A 'Regional Ni Stakeholders' Forum provided an opportunity to explore topics such as existing environmental monitoring practices, mine rehabilitation, indirect socio-economic contributions from the Ni sector and mining company-led social development and management programmes, in the specific context of Caraga Region (e.g. presentations from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Caraga, Agata Mining Ventures INC, Cagdianao Mining Corporation etc.).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description UK-Philippine PPD project consortium knowledge exchange event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A UK-Philippine PPD project consortium knowledge exchange event involved strategic social environmental assessment practitioners from BGS describing their first-hand experience and lessons learnt from application of the process to mineral development in Latin America. This also provided the SusNi research team with an initial opportunity to analyse the findings from the stakeholder consultation process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021