COLUMN-Nickel ore oversupply looms, threatening refined prices – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – May 11, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

May 11 It may be going from bad to worse for the nickel price, with conciliatory comments from the new mining minister in top ore producer the Philippines adding to the risks of the market being pushed into oversupply.

Former army general Roy Cimatu was appointed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on May 8 to replace Regina Lopez, whose confrontational approach to mining won her friends among environmentalists but not among enough politicians, resulting in her dismissal by the Southeast Asian nation’s Congress.

Cimatu was cautious in initial comments to the media, in stark contrast to the firebrand approach of his predecessor, who shut down almost half the country’s mines, citing environmental breaches.

“There are countries where mining contributes a lot to the economy and environmentalists are not screaming,” Cimatu told Reuters in a phone interview on May 9. “I think it can be done … (balancing) environment (protection) and responsible mining.”

While Cimatu will likely take several weeks to come to grips with his portfolio, his comments suggest that miners can breathe easier. While it may be a challenge for some of the closed mines to re-open, the risks are now that they may be able to do, thereby boosting output of nickel in the world’s largest exporter of the ore, which, once refined, is mainly used to make stainless steel and other alloys.

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