Photographer: Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Philippines Aims for Final Mine-Halt Decisions by Month-End

  • Government checking suppliers in world’s top nickel producer
  • Letters being sent out to miners with findings from audit

The Philippine government has set out a timetable for the final stages of its review of metallic miners in the world’s largest nickel producer, and aims to decide which suppliers will be suspended for failing an environmental audit before the end of this month.

The Environment Department is sending letters to companies recommended for suspension, and producers have a week to respond, according to Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno. There’s a further seven days for the responses to be assessed by the department before a decision, Jasareno said.

The mining companies “will be given seven days, and we have another seven days to review,” Jasareno said in a phone interview late on Wednesday. By the third week of this month, “we hope to come up with a decision,” he said.

The global nickel market is awaiting the definitive results from the checkup that was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. Three-quarters of the nation’s mines fell short in the audit, with 20 facing suspension on top of 10 already halted. While there’s concern that further halts may constrict supplies, several miners including Nickel Asia Corp. have said they are confident problems can be addressed.

Nickel futures traded 0.7 percent higher at $10,150 a metric ton at 4:37 p.m. in Singapore, and the metal used in stainless steel is 15 percent higher this year. Prices surged to as much as $10,900 on Sept. 27 as Lopez presented the list of mines recommended for suspension.

While Deutsche Bank AG raised the possibility this week that nickel may gain to $14,000 in the event of a significant wave of mine closures in the Southeast Asian nation, the bank cautioned that “the magnitude of the rally will, of course, depend on the final outcome” of the audit.

— With assistance by Jake Lloyd-Smith

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