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As Philippines announces more mine suspensions, nickel prices go up

Philippines Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno (Photo: DENR).

Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources recommended the suspension of 20 more mines, as part of its nationwide audit aimed at tackling environmental violations.

Between July and mid-September, the DENR had already asked for a moratorium on some 10 mines, most of them nickel operations, after it found they had inadequate mining practices and a lack of proper siltation prevention facilities, were carrying out technical violations, and were not complying with planned social development efforts.

Since he took power in June, President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear that he wants his country to pursue stricter mining standards. If doing so implies shutting down all operations, Duterte has said he’s willing to do so.

According to what Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno told reporters during a press conference in Manila on Tuesday, the mines recommended for suspension, together with those already shut, accounted for 56% of nickel production by value last year.

The announcement sent global prices up, helping the metal recover from earlier losses amid worries over disruption of supply to the Chinese stainless-steel market.

On the London Metal Exchange, prices jumped 2% to $10,705 a tonne.

Philippines is the world’s top supplier of nickel ore.