MANILA/LONDON, July 13 An environmental crackdown on Philippine mines, which helped drive nickel prices to eight-month highs, is likely to have only a muted impact on exports to China in the short term because the biggest mines have met guidelines, experts said.
The Philippines is the biggest exporter to top metals consumer China of nickel ore, used to make stainless steel. A smattering of smaller mines are likely to be affected in coming months and new mines will probably face tough going in the future, but the review of the mining sector is not likely to result in a quick drop in shipments.
“The Chinese think the Philippines will continue exporting ore to China and only some small mines will be affected. They’re not worried about the situation at the moment,” said Peter Peng, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.
The biggest Philippine producer, Nickel Asia Corp, which has already complied with international mining standards, accounted for close to 40 percent of Philippine nickel ore production last year, according to analyst David Wilson at Citi in London.
Three other major miners also say they have approvals, while small scale miners only accounted for about 11 percent of ore produced last year, he added.
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