CORRECTED-COLUMN-Nickel markets can shrug off any Philippine mining ban – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – March 20, 2017)

Just how worried should nickel markets be about the latest threats by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to stop all mining in the world’s biggest exporter of the metal ore? Probably not too much.

The reason to be relatively sanguine about the prospects for nickel supply isn’t that Duterte is unlikely to follow up on his latest threat, although he may not. It’s that even if he does, the market is likely to be able to cope with the loss of Philippine nickel ore, despite having to make some short-term adjustments.

In the latest twist to Duterte’s ongoing battle with his country’s miners, the bombastic and populist leader accused them of funding efforts to destabilise his government, and mooted a total ban on mining.

Duterte told a March 13 media briefing that he was looking at a total mining ban “and then we’ll talk”, referring to miners.

The Philippine leader has said his Southeast Asian nation can live without a mining industry, and in broad terms he is correct, with the sector contributing just 0.6 percent directly to gross domestic product in 2016, according to data from the government’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

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