The Philippines is unlikely to ban mineral-ore exports and force companies to process metals locally, a lawmaker said, amid reports that such a prohibition will soon be enacted into law.
Senator Cynthia Villar, who heads the Senate’s environment and natural resources committee, said she doubts any ban will happen during new President Rodrigo Duterte’s six-year term, Bloomberg reports.
“The industry is not that developed,” she told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of a mining conference in Manila.
Domestic processing “is something we should look forward to in the future”, she added.
The House of Representatives will tackle a bill seeking to ban ore exports as part of a broader plan to revamp the mining industry and retain more of the country’s mineral wealth domestically, Congressman Carlos Isagani Zarate said last week.
The country is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore used in stainless steel and the top supplier to China.
Global nickel prices rallied to the highest in a year this month after some mines were suspended amid an environmental audit and reports of a potential export ban.
The law’s sponsors aim to develop a domestic processing industry, creating jobs and boosting tax revenue. A similar bill foundered in 2014 through lack of support.
Villar, who spoke at an event organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, said mining shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment and she blamed small, illegal miners for bad practices.
Villar’s son is the chief executive of St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., the Toronto-listed operator of the planned King-king gold and copper mine in Compostela Valley in southern Philippines.
President Duterte and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez are spearheading the mining crackdown, ordering operators to comply with environmental rules or face closure.
So far, 3 percent of the nation’s first-half output this year has been shuttered, according to Citigroup Inc.
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