Philippine Environment Chief Vows to Shutter Failed Miners – by Cecilia Yap and Martin Ritchie (Bloomberg News – July 8, 2016)

Miners in the Philippines will be shuttered this year if they fail environmental checks, according to the country’s environment secretary who’s spearheading tougher regulation of the resources sector.

Gina Lopez, hired by new President Rodrigo Duterte to clean up mining, announced the probe last week on assuming the post. The audit will be completed in three to four weeks and may result in mines being closed in the next six months, Lopez said in a Bloomberg interview.

“If they are killing our rivers, how can their business interest be more important than the lives of our people? I will not allow suffering,” said Lopez, who has previously disclosed that she doesn’t like mining. “The main thing is that whatever we do, the welfare of the people must be paramount.”

The Philippines is the world’s biggest source of mined nickel, and supplies almost all of the nickel ore imported by China and used to make stainless steel. Nickel surged about 8 percent in two days after Lopez announced the probe amid concerns that closures would cut supply and deepen an emerging global shortage.

Nickel Asia Corp. and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc., the nation’s top two producers, say they operate according to the standards demanded by their new regulator.

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