Archive | Nickel Laterites

Former yoga missionary could bring Philippine mining industry to its knees (Channel News Asia – March 27, 2017)

The world’s biggest source of nickel is facing a mining shakedown. Philippine environment secretary Gina Lopez has made it her mission to save the country’s watersheds – with the biggest mines as her main target.

MANILA: The Philippines’ environment secretary, Gina Lopez, comes from one of the country’s wealthiest families, with business stakes in media empires, energy and manufacturing. But she had mostly stayed away from the limelight, choosing a life of travelling, spirituality and yoga.

When she returned to the Philippines, she became a passionate advocate for the environment using the charity arms of her family’s media company, ABS-CBN, to fund her projects. That all changed when she was appointed environment secretary under the new Duterte administration and took on some of the country’s biggest businesses, despite little technical education. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Philippines allows suspended miners to ship out nickel ore after clampdown – by Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – March 24, 2017)

MANILA – The Philippines’ environment ministry has allowed eight suspended nickel ore miners to ship out stockpiles of mined ore, sources told Reuters, temporarily boosting supply from the world’s top exporter of the raw metal after a major crackdown.

More than half of all mines in the Philippines have been ordered to permanently shut to protect watersheds in an eight-month campaign led by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez.

Allowing the halted mines to sell their stocked nickel ore is aimed at limiting the potential build up of silt in nearby waters, an official with knowledge of the order said, rather than the government toning down its campaign. Continue Reading →

CORRECTED-COLUMN-Nickel markets can shrug off any Philippine mining ban – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – March 20, 2017)

Just how worried should nickel markets be about the latest threats by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to stop all mining in the world’s biggest exporter of the metal ore? Probably not too much.

The reason to be relatively sanguine about the prospects for nickel supply isn’t that Duterte is unlikely to follow up on his latest threat, although he may not. It’s that even if he does, the market is likely to be able to cope with the loss of Philippine nickel ore, despite having to make some short-term adjustments.

In the latest twist to Duterte’s ongoing battle with his country’s miners, the bombastic and populist leader accused them of funding efforts to destabilise his government, and mooted a total ban on mining. Continue Reading →

WHAT’S STOPPING THE PHILIPPINES FROM MINING ITS RICHES? – by Calire Jiao (South China Morning Herald – March 19, 2017)

Half the nation’s mines were shut last month; foreign firms consider moving

When mining investors talk of the Philippines, they often boast of its wealth of untapped mineral reserves. But as one political controversy after another rocks the industry, miners are beginning to worry that’s all they will ever be: untapped.

In one fell swoop, the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shut down more than half of all operating mines last month. According to Secretary Gina Lopez, its audit found “serious environmental violations” in 23 of the country’s 41 mines. The department also cancelled contracts for 75 mining projects still in their exploration stages. The projects are located in watersheds; Lopez said they never should have been approved to begin with.

Miners are up in arms, not only about the orders, but the way in which they are being carried out. They say their supposed violations haven’t been made clear and argue that they should be given the chance to address any issues. Continue Reading →

Mining issues cloud Phl competitiveness – by Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star – March 17, 2017)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines may soon feel the backlash of the ongoing issues surrounding the closure and suspension of mining companies in its global competitiveness rankings, the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) said.

NCC private sector co-chairman Guillermo Luz told The STAR the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to close 23 mine sites and suspend five others may affect the country’s standing in some global reports, particularly those that include rule of law, contracts and formation of public policy as indicators.

“Any area which affects investor interest is obviously an area of concern for us. Definitely, you can see the impact on the mining sector. Obviously, they are very concerned,” Luz said. Continue Reading →

Tensions rise in New Caledonia as it mulls a break with France – by Michael Field (Nikkei Asian Review – March 16, 2017)

Bougainville and Guam are also moving toward referendums on constitutional status

AUCKLAND Due east of Australia, the Pacific island of New Caledonia is mulling a final break from France, ending a relationship lasting more than 150 years. In a referendum that will take place next year, islanders will vote on the issue of independence.

The wording of the referendum question to be asked has not been determined, and neither has the eligible electorate. Tensions have been building, prompting Paris to dispatch 50 additional security officers to the territory. They arrived in February, but attacks on police have continued, wounding three and drawing condemnation from authorities.

Sonia Backes, a senior pro-French politician in New Caledonia, has been critical of what she sees as Paris’ soft line. This month she demanded the prosecution of an indigenous politician who called whites in New Caledonia “immigrants.” “UNBEARABLE REMARKS” “These remarks are unbearable,” she said, adding that those who say such things should be prosecuted for “inciting racial hatred.” Continue Reading →

Philippine lawmakers postpone vote on embattled resources minister – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – March 14, 2017)

MANILA – Philippine lawmakers on Tuesday deferred a decision to confirm or reject an ardent environmentalist as the country’s resources minister, stoking uncertainty over the outlook for mining in the world’s top nickel ore supplier.

Regina Lopez last month ordered the closure of more than half the nation’s mines to protect watersheds, a bold step backed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has said the Philippines can survive without mining.

Duterte appointed Lopez in June, but confirmation hearings in the country usually take place long after ministers start work and members of Congress have this month been debating whether to confirm Lopez in her role. Continue Reading →

Philippines’ Duterte wants mining ban, links miners to destabilization plot – by Manolo Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – March 13, 2017)

MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday accused some miners of funding efforts to destabilize his government as he talked about a possible plan to impose a ban on mining given the environmental damage producers have caused.

Duterte, who has said the Southeast Asian nation can survive without mining, has backed a crackdown on miners by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez in the world’s top supplier of nickel ore.

Duterte said he was looking at a total mining ban “and then we’ll talk”, referring to miners. “When it comes to the preservation of my country, the land… I will do what is necessary,” Duterte told a media briefing. Continue Reading →

ANALYSIS: Arrested development: why Indonesia lifted its mining export ban – by Julian Turner (Mining Technology – March 13, 2017)

The Indonesian Government is hoping to kick-start its economy by lifting a partial ban on exports of metal ore and mineral concentrates, a policy originally aimed at boosting domestic processing and reducing the South East Asian nation’s exposure to volatile commodity prices.

In January, the Indonesian Government ended months of speculation by lifting its partial ban on the export of unprocessed minerals, underlining not only the parlous state of South East Asia’s largest economy, but also its status as a major supplier of nickel ore and bauxite, for aluminium production.

The controversial policy was intended both to boost smelting capacity by developing higher value domestic processing facilities and reduce Indonesia’s exposure to volatile global commodity prices. Continue Reading →

Philippines may consider ban on exports of unprocessed minerals: official (Reuters India – March 3, 2017)

The Philippines may consider banning exports of unprocessed minerals in an effort to promote value addition in the mining sector, a senior environment official said on Friday.

The Philippines is the world’s top nickel ore supplier, shipping nearly all of its output to China. Previous governments have supported calls to spur domestic processing of raw minerals but earlier efforts in Congress to enact appropriate laws have failed to take off.

“It’s one of the things we’re considering for any mine that we think should remain operating,” Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna told reporters. “In the long term that will help our economy because that will increase the value of the products.” Continue Reading →

Philippine Congress postpones embattled minister’s confirmation hearing – by Manolo Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.K. – February 28, 2017)

MANILA: A Philippine legislative hearing set for Wednesday to confirm the appointment of a controversial environment minister who ordered more than half of the country’s mines shut has been postponed following a shakeup in the Senate leadership.

While the hearings are typically a formality carried out long after a minister has started work, the confirmation process for Regina Lopez is much anticipated because of the uproar she has caused in the mining sector, with calls from miners for her to be removed.

Lopez is among just a few of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees yet to get the green light from lawmakers. Continue Reading →

China’s nickel imports mirror shifts in supply chain – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 24, 2017)

LONDON – Is the Philippines’ draconian mining clampdown already affecting the flow of nickel ore to China’s nickel pig iron (NPI) producers? It certainly looks that way. Exports of ore to China always drop at this time of year due to the rainy season, which affects both mining and shipping.

But China’s trade figures for January showed imports of Philippine nickel ore were still 20 percent lower than last year’s level. And the betting is that they will continue trending lower after the Philippines’ feisty environmental minister, Regina Lopez, ordered the closure of over half the country’s mines, many of them nickel operations.

Nickel bulls, however, should be wary. China’s import picture is also one of growing diversification of supply, not least from Indonesia, the other political wild-card in the nickel supply chain. Continue Reading →

Vale, Glencore back in the black – by Staff (Sudbury Star – February 24, 2017)

Two of Sudbury’s most important employers reported healthy profits on Thursday. Brazilian miner Vale SA said it made a net profit of US $3.98 billion in 2016, while Glencore made US $1.99 billion. The results are a dramatic turnaround for both companies, which have struggled with low commodity prices and high debt in recent years.

Vale reported on Thursday net profit of $525 million for the fourth quarter, falling short of analyst expectations but reversing a heavy loss in the period a year earlier thanks to record output and higher iron ore prices.

A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast net profit of $1.8 billion in the quarter, but the world’s largest producer of iron ore fell short on account of impairments totaling $2.9 billion, principally on fertilizer and nickel assets. In the same period of 2015, Vale reported a net loss of $8.6 billion. Continue Reading →

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 →