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Philippines suspends 2 nickel projects, bans nationwide exploration for a month

The Philippine government has ordered two nickel projects inthe Zambales province to suspend operations due to environmental infractions,Reuters reported July 7, citing Leo Jasareno, director of the country's Minesand Geosciences Bureau.

The two projects were respectively operated by and Zambales Diversified MetalsCorp. The two companies could not be reached for comment, the reportsaid.

Benguetcorp and Zambales need to comply with conditions setby the bureau to lift the suspensions, according to Jasareno.

Regina Lopez, the country's new mining minister, was citedas saying that the country was imposing a one-month ban on new explorationprojects while a review of all existing mines was underway.

"There's a moratorium on new mining until we're donewith the audit," Lopez said.

The move came after Philippine president Rodrigo Dutertewarned that miningcompanies causing environmental harm needed to take corrective actions or bereplaced by local investors.

Lopez said that no project strictly complied withenvironmental standards or took full care of local communities among the in thecountry.

The country has suspended issuing new permits for minedevelopment since 2012 but exploration activities are allowed until the plannedban.

The Philippine government's decisions are expected to curbnickel ore supply in the global market. Nickel price hit an eight-month ofUS$10,410 per tonne July 4, according to the report.