Philippine mining operations under review
All mine operations in the Philippines are to be completely reviewed, as the new mining minister has vowed to determine whether the industry is hurting the Southeast Asian nation.
Regina Lopez's appointment to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has sent shockwaves through the mining sector, which fears a nationwide crackdown
"I'm not against the mining industry but I'm against suffering," Lopez told reporters on her first day in office as part of the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
"I do want to evaluate if the country is safe from mining," she told a briefing where videos were aired showing environmental harm from mining along with testimonies from farmers and fishermen opposed to the industry.
Lopez said the review would take a month.
Her stance suggests a tough regulatory road ahead for Philippine miners, whose nickel ore producers are the biggest suppliers to China.
A mining industry lawyer said he was worried a ban on new mining development permits in place since 2012 may not be lifted if the minister's review drags on.
"Our concern is that if Secretary Lopez's initiative to review all mining operations will take another four years, and no new mining permits are issued, that will effectively kill the industry," said Ronald Recidoro of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
President Duterte has warned that he could cancel projects causing environmental harm, though he told business leaders last week that he was not against mining per se.
The country's mining sector, one of the world's largest in the 1970s, has since struggled partly due to environmental rules and policy flip flops, missing much of the mining boom in recent decades and now facing much lower commodity prices.
Read the July issue of Mining Global Magazine!
Be sure to follow @MiningGlobal for news and latest updates.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.