* May announce ruling on 20 mines facing suspension next
* Philippines is world's top nickel ore supplier
* Mines involved produce more than half of Philippine nickel
(Adds quote, details throughout)
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Dec 2 The Philippine government will
suspend more mines in a fight against environmental degradation,
the minister in charge of mining said, a move that could put
future supply from the world's top exporter at risk and lift
Nickel on the London Metal Exchange recovered nearly
1 percent from Friday's lows on the potential for supply
disruption after the minister's comments.
The Southeast Asian nation has already halted 10 of its 41
mines in a campaign backed by President Rodrigo Duterte against
what the government says is irresponsible mining. Twenty more
are facing possible suspension and the agency in charge of the
review may issue a ruling next week.
"There will definitely be suspensions, but we have to go
over the list," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary
Regina Lopez told Reuters by phone on Friday.
Lopez said the list will be finalised "very soon, next week
at the latest."
Fourteen of the 20 mines facing suspension are nickel
producers, and along with the eight of 10 already halted, they
accounted for more than half of the Philippines' nickel ore
output last year.
Nearly all of the output is shipped to China, where
shipments of nickel ore and concentrate from the Philippines
have dropped 12.5 percent over January-October.
The clampdown began shortly after Duterte assumed office on
June 30. He had warned miners to strictly follow tighter rules
or shut down, saying the country could survive without a mining
PHILIPPINES THE ONLY IMPETUS
Manila's crackdown drove nickel to a then one-year
high of $11,030 a tonne in August. Last month the metal briefly
pierced $12,000 a tonne for the first time since July 2015 in a
broad-based rally in industrial metals.
Nickel was down 0.3 percent at $11,175 a tonne by 0757 GMT,
but was off the session's low of $11,080. Analysts say it
could top $12,000 again if the Philippines suspends more mines.
"The Philippine ruling on those mines is really the only
impetus to get it there," said Daniel Hynes, commodity
strategist at ANZ.
"Further suspensions would see an acceleration in the
drawdown in inventories" of nickel from London Metal Exchange
warehouses, he said.
The environment agency has pored over responses from the 20
mines facing suspension after they were given show cause letters
in October, said Lopez, a passionate environmentalist.
"Our commitment is to the common good," she said, declining
to give more details of the review.
On top of the audit of mines in operation, Lopez said in
October that all environmental permits previously granted to
mines will be reviewed.
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Tom Hogue)