The Philippines has ordered the suspension of 20 more mines for environmental violations, Reuters has reported.
According to the wire agency, the Philippines, which is the world’s top supplier of nickel ore, is vowing to adopt stricter standards than in global mining centres like Canada and Australia.
Most of the mines suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were nickel producers.
News sent sent global prices up more than one percent on September 27, according to Reuters.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said that the Philippines could survive without a mining industry, and 10 mines have already been shuttered as part of an audit completed last August by the government.
“I am not against mining but I am definitely against the adverse effects that may happen, that are happening in some of the situations,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez told a briefing, according to Reuters.
If the additional mines recommended for suspension are halted, it would bring to 30 the number closed, 18 of them nickel producers that account for 55.5 percent of the country’s total nickel ore output based on last year’s production.
“There were miners that passed (the audit) and I want to work with them to push it further, better than Canada, better than Australia. We must be better and I know it can be done,” Lopez said.
Each miner would be handed the audit report and given seven days “to explain their violations”, Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Leo Jasareno said.
The agency would review the responses and decide whether to impose the suspension, he said, adding that miners would be able to appeal.
Reuters reported that Ronald Recidoro of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines raised concerns that the audit “was done in a punitive manner rather than objectively”, and questioned the grounds for suspensions.
Jasareno said 11 of the nation’s 41 mines had passed the audit including those owned by top nickel ore producers Nickel Asia Corp and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc.
Among those ordered suspended were nickel miners Marcventures Mining and Development Corp and Carrascal Nickel Corp.
OceanaGold Corp, the top gold miner in the Philippines, was also facing a suspension, according to Reuters.
Jasareno said the audit on OceanaGold’s Didipio gold-copper mine showed “damage to houses allegedly caused by blasting and perceived dangers of underground mining”. OceanaGold CEO Mick Wilkes said in an email to Reuters that there had been no environmental violations