Archive | Nickel Laterites

Sherritt considering full exit from Madagascar mine project to reduce debt – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – February 17, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG — After months of negotiations with its partners, Sherritt International Corp. is still considering a complete exit from its costly joint venture in Madagascar as it struggles to reduce its huge debt burden.

The Toronto-based company owns 40 per cent of the Ambatovy nickel and cobalt mine in Madagascar, which cost more than $5-billion (U.S.) to develop. Last year, it announced a $1.6-billion (Canadian) writedown of the value of its stake in the mine, where it is also the operator.

After borrowing about $650-million (U.S.) from its partners to pay for its share of developing the mine, Sherritt has seen this loan balloon to about $1.3-billion (Canadian) on its balance sheet as the interest compounded, according to David Pathe, Sherritt’s chief executive officer. “It’s an enormous debt number for a company our size,” Mr. Pathe said in an interview at an African mining conference in Cape Town. Continue Reading →

Palace tells mining firms: Go to court – by Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star – February 16, 2017)

MANILA, Philippines – Companies affected by the environment department’s cancellation of mining projects would be given due process and are free to turn to the courts for legal remedies, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella gave the assurance to companies which have been targets of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s crackdown on mining operations in watersheds. On Tuesday, Lopez announced the cancellation of 75 mining contracts or mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) for posing threats to watersheds and to overall water supply.

“The cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements by Secretary Regina Lopez is consistent with Republic Act 7942 that mining applications are closed to proclaimed watershed forest reserves,” Abella said in a statement. Continue Reading →

Environmental justice: The Philippines mining industry – by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid (Manila Bulletin – February 14, 2017)

Pro-environment activists hailed President Duterte’s support for Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s order to close 23 mining corporations that had violated environmental laws. The basis of the DENR ruling on the closure of these 23 mining firm(out of a total of 41 firm) was that they were operating in functional watersheds.

They shall not be operating unless they appeal the decision which would become final when the President says it is. Water is important, Lopez says, and the green economy can actually create more jobs.

The 23 firms include One Asia Mining and Development Corp. in Bulacan, the Benguet Corporation, the country’s oldest mining company, the Benguet Corporation’s Nickel Mines, Inc., the Diversified Metals Corporation in Zambales, the Eraman Minerals, three mining companies in Homonhon, six firms in Dinagat Islands, and seven other firms in Surigao del Norte. In addition, five corporations were also suspended. Continue Reading →

Nickel market rebalancing put on hold as divergent Indonesia, Philippines strategies signal standoff – by Henry Lazenby ( – February 14, 2017)

VANCOUVER ( – A rebalancing of the nickel market has been cast into doubt as divergent strategies by major producers Indonesia and the Philippines muddle the outlook, a recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) has found.

While Indonesia looks to increase nickel exports, the Philippines is shuttering mines, the banking group’s global commodity research team said in its ‘Global Metals Weekly’ publication.

Nickel has seen a significant improvement in fundamentals over the past 12 months. This has been heavily influenced by a decline in nickel pig iron output in China, on the back of Indonesia’s ore export ban. Continue Reading →

Saying mining is ‘raping’ us, Philippines minister continues crackdown (Deutsche Welle – February 14, 2017)

The Philippines’ environment minister on Tuesday ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts, two weeks after ordering the closure of half the country’s operating mines for causing environmental damage.

A long-time environmentalist, Regina Lopez ordered the halt of so-called mineral production sharing agreements as part of a stepped-up campaign to stop damage to watersheds and coastal waters and farmlands.

“You kill the watershed, you kill life. You kill the river, you kill agriculture, you kill the drinking water,” Lopez told a media briefing, adding the country did not want projects that are “raping” us. Continue Reading →

Duterte backs mine closures in southern Philippines – by Karen Lema (Reuters U.S. – February 12, 2017)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he would not stand in the way of his minister’s decision to close several mines in the southern Philippines after he saw the damage they had done to the environment.

Duterte flew by helicopter from Butuan to Surigao City on Sunday to inspect areas hit by Friday’s powerful earthquake that killed six and damaged public infrastructure.

Of the 23 mines ordered shut by environment minister Regina Lopez for good, seven are in nickel-rich Surigao del Norte and another seven in nearby Dinagat Island, nearly all of them producing nickel. Continue Reading →

Eco-warrior lays waste to Philippines’ mining industry – by Manolo Serapio Jr and John Chalmers (Reuters U.S. – February , 2017)

MANILA – Mining industry chiefs had just assailed her order to shut down more than half of the Philippines’ mines, and Regina Lopez was in a combative mood: but, to keep her cool before an interview, she slipped into a side room and meditated for a few minutes.

There is a spiritual side to Lopez, the daughter of a media mogul who, at 18, left a life of privilege behind in the Philippines, took a vow of celibacy and became a yoga teacher and missionary in Africa, living in slums among the poor.

But Lopez is also a fiery environmental crusader. She has no qualms about attacking the powerful and flouting convention, just like the country’s blunt-spoken president, Rodrigo Duterte, who appointed her as his environment minister last year. Continue Reading →

[Oregon mining] EDITORIAL: Mining threat renewed (Register Guard – February 9, 2017)

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is in one of the more remote parts of western Oregon, not within easy reach of the main population centers in the Willamette Valley.

Its location in the southwestern corner of the state is both an asset and a liability. The 100,000 acres of public land — 95,805 acres of it national forest and 5,216 acres of it under the Bureau of Land Management — has remained unspoiled. Its streams and rivers run crystal clear, its salmon runs are a magnet for fishermen.

But its location, tucked away in the mountains east of Brookings and Gold Beach, west of Grants Pass, straddling the Oregon-California border, also means it’s not on the radar screen of many Oregonians who might otherwise be concerned about the threat it is now facing. Continue Reading →

Mining industry gasps for breath – by Val A. Villanueva (Philippines Business Mirror – February 8, 2017)

With over $1.4 trillion worth of minerals waiting to be excavated from identified mining areas, who could fault those who compare the Philippines to a poor man sitting on a pot of gold?

But that pot of gold is looking more like wishful thinking or an unfulfilled dream with what I believe is a reckless move by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) head, Regina Paz L. Lopez, to shut down 23 and suspend five mining operations in what was described in the industry as coming from an emotional, rather than a rational, mind.

Lopez, who has yet to be confirmed as DENR secretary by the Senate’s powerful Commission on Appointments, apparently made the move on her own, ignoring the recommendations of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). Her basis: these mining companies operate in “functional watersheds”. Continue Reading →

Philippine mining firms urge minister to publish audit – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2017)

MANILA – Mining firms in the Philippines struggling to accept the government’s decision to shut more than half of the country’s 41 mines want the environment minister to release the results of the audit that led to the closures.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which represents the country’s large-scale mining firms, said its members needed all the information related to the audit so they “could act accordingly” and their lawyers would know what to do next.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said she would grant the group’s request, but reiterated she was standing by her decision, which differed from the recommendation of a team that reviewed the audit results. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Nickel market doubles up on political uncertainty – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2017)

LONDON, Feb 7 Last month Indonesia rocked the nickel market. This month it is the turn of the Philippines. Indonesia’s decision to allow the partial resumption of exports of nickel ore sent the London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel price spiralling to a six-month low of $9,350 per tonne.

What Indonesia giveth, the Philippines apparently taketh away. The country’s eco-warrior-turned-mining-minister Regina Lopez has ordered the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five others, most of them nickel producers.

In London the price shot up to a three-week high of $10,500 on the news and is currently trading around $10,400. Over the coming weeks nickel’s fortunes are likely to be beholden to the uncertain implications of government policy in both countries. Continue Reading →

Sherritt’s nickel-price boost capped by debt, ‘confusing’ U.S. signals on Cuba – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – February 7, 2017)

David Pathe knows what it’s like to be banned from the United States. The chief executive of Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp. received a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security three years ago saying he was no longer welcome in the U.S. because of the miner’s business dealings in Cuba.

“There’s frankly a certain random element to it,” said Pathe, who has been with the company for 10 years and CEO for five.“I tell people that and they’re flabbergasted — a lot of Americans I tell this to can’t believe it.”

Sherritt is a joint owner, along with the Cuban government, of the Moa nickel and cobalt mining, processing and refining operations, and also produces about two-thirds of Cuban oil. The company has been operating under the status quo — including crippling U.S. economic embargo. Continue Reading →

Team advised Philippine mine suspensions, not closures: sources – by Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.K. – February 6, 2017)

A team that reviewed an audit of Philippine mines recommended suspension of operations and payment of fines for environmental violations, rather than the closure of 23 mines ordered by the minister overseeing the process, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez on Thursday ordered the mines shut, saying many were operating in watersheds. The mines to be closed account for half of nickel ore output by the world’s top supplier of the metal. Another five mines were suspended.

The decision has angered the country’s mining industry, with miners saying the shutdowns will affect 1.2 million people and some vowing to overturn the ruling. Continue Reading →

Philippine miners say closures to hit 1.2 million people, vow to fight back – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – February 3, 2017)

MANILA – The planned closure of 23 Philippine mines, mostly nickel producers, and the suspension of five others will affect about 1.2 million people, miners said, as some vowed to take legal action to contest the decision.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez ordered the closures and suspensions on Thursday as she announced the results of a months-long audit on the country’s 41 mines aimed at halting mining operations judged to have harmed the environment.

Artemio Disini, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, told a briefing that the first option for affected miners would be to appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte “before going to the courts”. Continue Reading →

Company in focus: Antam faces a test as Indonesia shifts mining policy – by Erwida Maulia (Asia Nikkei – February 2, 2017)

End to minerals export ban benefits state nickel producer

JAKARTA Indonesia’s surprise decision on the evening of Jan. 12, after the markets closed, to ease its mineral export ban sent ripples through Asia’s nickel industry. Shares of nickel producers in the region plummeted the day after the announcement on fears of a sudden supply surge.

Vale Indonesia, the country’s largest nickel producer and the local unit of Brazilian mining giant Vale, saw its share price plunge more than 15%, while Philippine miner Nickel Asia tumbled more than 10% at one point. Australia’s Western Areas fell nearly 20%, prompting one Australian media report to describe Jakarta’s decision as a “Black Friday blow.”

One company, though, stood out in the crowd. Indonesian state miner Aneka Tambang saw its shares jump 6%. That was because the government decided to allow exports of low-grade nickel ore — defined as ore containing less than 1.7% nickel — to resume, raising hopes that Antam, as the company is better known, will be able to reap benefits from the decision. Continue Reading →