Philippines nickel miner seeks Duterte help to unfreeze ore (Reuters/Asia Times – April 9, 2017)

A suspended Philippine nickel miner has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to allow it to ship ore stockpiles after some cargoes were seized as tensions escalated over a required fee it claimed was illegal.

BenguetCorp Nickel Mines has filed an urgent motion with Duterte’s office to issue a cease and desist order against the environment ministry after its officers, along with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, raided its operations on Thursday, halting the loading of nickel ore into two Chinese vessels, a company official told Reuters on Sunday.

Reuters reported last month that eight nickel miners, including BenguetCorp Nickel, were suspended for environmental breaches in a mining crackdown.However, miners in the world’s top producer of the raw metal were allowed to remove previously mined ore that could pose environmental hazards.

But Environment Secretary Regina Lopez required the miners to put 2 million pesos (US$40,175) per hectare of disturbed land into a trust fund “to further mitigate the adverse impacts of the mining operations to the environment and to the affected communities.”

The environmentalist-turned-regulator has ordered the closure of more than half the Philippines’ 41 mines to protect water resources, a move largely supported by Duterte.

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