Nickel shriek turns to shrug as Philippines dithers on audit
Nickel shriek turns to shrug as Philippines dithers on audit.
In 2016, prices of the metal used mostly to harden stainless steel surged the most in two years after the Philippine government said it would shut down mines blamed for water pollution and denuded forests as part of an environmental audit of about 300 open pits.
“It’s taken such a long time for the Philippines to make the final decision, and in the meantime the market has changed,” Peter Peng, a nickel analyst in CRU Group’s Beijing office said by phone.
An avowed anti-mining crusader, Ms. Lopez ordered the closure of eight mines that month, and by the end of the year, nickel prices had surged almost 25%, touching a 16-month high of $12,145 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.
Mr. Duterte hasn’t indicated how or when he will decide.
And while he has vowed to make quick decisions on matters brought to his attention, Ms. Lopez has claimed that appeals already filed with the President’s office haven’t reached him yet.
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council will check whether the orders were carried out with due process, one of the mining companies’ chief complaints.
Nickel traded on the London Metal Exchange has given up all its gains, dropping to $9,230 a metric ton last week, the lowest since before Ms. Lopez announced her audit, as the prospect of more Indonesia supply collides with signs of peaking demand from the Chinese steel sector.
“The market would certainly still need to re-price based on a particularly tight market even with weaker demand growth.” Ms. Lopez’ own future as environment secretary hangs in the balance.
She still remains determined to censure the miners and has now signed an order banning open-pit mining for new projects.