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Philippines to implement measure limiting production area for nickel miners

The Philippines is implementing rules to limit the land miners can develop at any one time as part of new measures to protect the environment, Reuters reported Sept. 6.

The restrictions, backed by President Rodrigo Duterte, target 29 of 48 mines operating in the country that are nickel producers that supply ore to China.

Under the regulation, metal extraction will be banned inside a 20-meter buffer zone that will be established inward from the mining tenement boundary and near rivers and streams.

Mines that produce up to 1 million tonnes of nickel ore per annum will be limited to a 50-hectare production area at any one time, while mines that produce 9 million tonnes and above will be given areas ranging up to 100 hectares, based on a draft order obtained by the newswire in April. Projects with a processing plant will be allowed up to 162 hectares.

In July, the Southeast Asian nation lifted a two-year moratorium on approving mining exploration permits but kept in place a ban on new mining operations. Exports of nickel ore from the Philippines could slump by up to 17% in 2018 due to weaker prices.

A government panel in the Philippines in June cleared 23 of 27 nickel mines the country's former environment minister, Regina Lopez, had ordered closed or suspended in 2017 due to environmental concerns and noncompliance with state regulations.