Global Nickel Market Convulsed as Top Shipper Sees Mine Failings – by Andreo Calonzo and Cecilia Yap (Bloomberg News – September 27, 2016)

The Philippines said three-quarters of its mines fell short in an audit of the top nickel producer, with 20 mines facing suspension unless they can respond to shortcomings within days, on top of the 10 already halted. Nickel went on a switchback ride, flipping from losses to a six-week high.

The mines already shut, together with those now recommended for suspension, accounted for 56 percent of nickel production by value last year, Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno told reporters in Manila on Tuesday. He presented the findings of the checkup at a briefing with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, saying only 11 mines had passed. The country has 41 metallic mines, mostly nickel, together with suppliers of copper and gold, according to a revised presentation by the government.

Mines recommended for suspension will be allowed to operate as normal until a final decision in about two weeks, according to Jasareno. Lopez plans to meet on Thursday with miners that haven’t passed the test, before making a final decision on their status, as well meeting with those that did.

Nickel, the best-performing metal on the Bloomberg Commodity Index this quarter, reversed losses as the results of the audit were announced and traders and investors started to factor in the potential for more Philippine mine suspensions in a global market already set for a global deficit.

The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of mined nickel supply, with most cargoes feeding China’s stainless-steel industry. The probe was ordered by new President Rodrigo Duterte and Lopez in July to check on compliance.

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