Top Frontier Holdings Inc., the parent company of San Miguel Corp., remains keen on a plan to build a $1.5-billion nickel-processing plant near its Nonoc mining site in Surigao del Norte despite current market conditions.
Top Frontier president and chief executive Ramon Ang said in an interview following the annual stockholders’ meeting the company planned to build a nickel-processing plant using the high pressure acid leaching (HPAL) technology to make the nickel mining project viable.
“For our mining business, we need to up that HPAL and smelter. If we are also to put up the HPAL and smelter, that business give us at least $600 million free cash flow per year,” Ang said.
Top Frontier owns a 66.15-percent interest in San Miguel, which has investments in food and beer manufacturing, power generation, real estate, banking, fuel and oil, telecommunications and infrastructure.
Ang said the company would pursue the nickel project despite the decline in metal prices and strict regulatory environment for the local mining industry.
Top Frontier has been planning the project since 2015 and is in the process of getting the needed government approvals.
“Once we are able the secure government approvals it would be easy to build the project,” Ang said. The nickel plant will have an annual processing capacity of 200,000 tons.
Top Frontier, through mining unit Clariden Holdings Inc., holds several mining tenements in several areas, including the Nonoc Nickel Project and Mt. Cadig Nickel Project. It also owns exploration permits over certain areas under the Bango Gold Project, and has pending applications and production sharing agreement in other areas.
Clariden holds mining rights over 23,877 hectares in the island of Nonoc, Hanigad, and Awasan Surigao City for the Nonoc Nickel Project.
Clariden is also considering investing in the 46-hectare Mindoro Iron Exploration project, the 16-hectare Davao del Sur Exploration project, the 32-hectare Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato Exploration project, the 254-hectare Compostela Valley Exploration project and the 1,284-hectare Ilocos Norte Limestone project.
Share price of Top Frontier on Tuesday inched up 0.08 percent to P260.