Things are about to get very serious in the world’s top nickel-producing nation.
That’s the message this week coming from lawmakers in the Philippines. With the country’s mines minister strongly suggesting that next week could be “D-day” for miners here.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez said Monday that the new Philippines government has now completed a comprehensive review of mining operations across the country. A step that recently-elected president Rodrigo Duterte set in motion as part of a nationwide crackdown on the industry.
And according to Secretary Lopez, the results of the review are less than satisfactory.
Lopez told Reuters that numerous operations have been found lacking in terms of environmental compliance. And she affirmed that the government will be moving quickly to punish these operators — saying simply, “There will be absolutely be more suspensions”.
Those are not idle words — with Lopez and the Duterte government already having shut down a full 10 mines across the country over the last two months. And it appears that the operations targeted in this latest round of suspensions could be of an even greater scale.
Lopez was very blunt on this point, saying, “There will be large-scale mines to be suspended.” Suggesting that some of the operations to be shut are going to be major players in terms of production.
All of this should be raising a lot of red flags for one metal: nickel. With the Philippines representing a full 21% of global nickel production — making it far and away the world’s top producer, as shown in the chart below.
Source: U.S. Geological Survey
To date, the majority of mines shut down by the new Philippines government have been nickel operations. And we could be about to see the most severe curtailment yet — with Secretary Lopez saying that the results of the mining review will be announced next week.
Watch for news then on which mines are being shuttered — and for an attendant rally in the nickel price, if it indeed turns out that major operations are on the list.