Exclusive: Philippines may suspend at least 10 more mines under crackdown – by Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.s. – September 19, 2016)


MANILA – The Philippines could suspend at least 10 more mines under an environmental crackdown on the sector, the minister in charge of mining said, in a move that threatens to halt the operations of half the mines in the world’s top supplier of nickel ore.

Global nickel prices jumped 2 percent as the country’s second-biggest nickel producer warned that more new stoppages would disrupt shipments to the crucial Chinese market and elsewhere.President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a tough line on the industry and warned the nation could survive without mining, while mineral producers have labeled a review of the sector a “demolition campaign”.

The Philippines has already halted the operations of 10 mines, eight of them nickel producers, for environmental lapses since it launched an audit on July 8.That has left 30 mines still operating, but Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said others could be suspended when the agency releases the results of the mining audit on Thursday.

Asked if a further 10 or more mines could be suspended, Lopez said in a text message: “Yes possible.” “We are coming clean here. For decades we have turned a blind eye to the suffering of our people. Not anymore,” she said, adding that any decision to halt mines would follow the law.

Lopez, a committed environmentalist picked by Duterte to promote responsible mining, has said miners have to upgrade their operations to limit harm to the environment and local communities. “They just need to get their act together,” Lopez said in the text message.

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