Philippine committee approves bill banning mineral ore exports – by Erik dela Cruz and Rosemarie Francisco (Reuters India – September 8, 2014)

(Reuters) – A Philippine bill seeking a halt to exports of unprocessed mineral ores has been approved at the committee stage in the lower chamber of Congress, one of two bills aimed at extracting more value from the country’s mineral resources.

The measure will go next to a full session of the lower house of Congress for discussion and voting, but no schedule has yet been set, said Ronald Madrigal, staff to Congressman Erlpe John Amante who introduced the bill in July.

A counterpart bill has also been introduced in the upper house Senate by Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino, a first cousin of President Benigno Aquino. (To read the bill in full, click

The bills, which would require domestic processing of all minerals extracted in the country prior to export, have raised concern at the possibility of a halt to exports of nickel ore from the Philippines, in line with similar action by Indonesia.

London Metal Exchange nickel rose 1.7 percent in early European trade on Monday and have risen more than 7 percent since news of the potential Philippines ban was revealed last week.

The Philippines currently supplies China with virtually all of the nickel ore that it uses to make nickel pig iron, a raw material used by steelmakers, following the Indonesian ban that took effect in January.

The bills aim to generate more income from the Philippines from mining, which has vast but largely untapped mineral resources.

If passed, nickel miners would be have to build more smelters to process ore before shipment.

The Philippines currently has two processing plants for nickel, both owned by the country’s top producer Nickel Asia Corp, two for gold, and one for copper, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

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