Philippines to suspend more mines as environmental review ends

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 September, 2016, 6:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 September, 2016, 6:05pm

The Philippines will this week announce the suspension of more of the country’s mines for violating environmental regulations, the mining minister said on Monday, as the government wrapped up a seven-week review.

The Southeast Asian nation, the world’s top nickel ore supplier, launched a review of the country’s 40 metallic mines on July 8 and has so far suspended 10, eight of them producing nickel ore. The closures and the risk of more mines being shuttered lifted nickel prices to a one-year high last month.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez declined to say how many more mines will be suspended but said that “there will absolutely be more suspensions”.

All the suspensions are absolutely due to environmental reasons, and my particular interest is the well-being of the community
Regina Lopez , Environment and Natural Resources Secretary

“All the suspensions are absolutely due to environmental reasons, and my particular interest is the well-being of the community, that’s my benchmark,” Lopez said in a text message.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange was trading just above US$10,000 a tonne on Monday.

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“We have had mining in this country for over a hundred years. And until now we don’t even have one rehabilitated mine site, not one,” Lopez said in the text message.

“Just gaping open holes, destroyed rivers, children with brain disease, so very sad,” she said, referring to sick children in the province of Marinduque where a 1996 tailings leak at Canadian-owned Marcopper Mining Corp’s copper mine contaminated rivers.

Lopez’s agency finished its review last month.

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Her stance on mining is backed by President Rodrigo Duterte who has previously warned miners to strictly follow tighter environmental rules or shut down, saying the nation could survive without a mining industry.

Miners have claimed that the government’s environmental crackdown is a “demolition campaign” against them and have sought a meeting with Duterte.

The Philippines is the top nickel ore supplier to China, shipping 34 million tonnes in 2015.