I wrote a few weeks back about cracks appearing in the Philippines’ government war on mining.
And yesterday, the anti-mining movement suffered a major blow. With controversial Environment Secretary Regina Lopez getting removed by the country’s top lawmakers.
The federal government’s Commission on Appointments failed to confirm Lopez in her position as top regulator for mining in the country. A role she’d been serving in for 10 months already — due to government procedures that take months for confirmation hearings to be completed after appointments are made.
Lopez will now be immediately removed from her position in overseeing mining. Bringing an apparent end to a rollercoaster period in the Philippines mining sector, which saw a massive crackdown on operations across the country.
Even Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte — who initially appointed Lopez, and was a vocal supporter of her anti-mining policies — said he will respect the decision not to confirm her.
The question now is: what will happen to Lopez’s previous decisions on mining policy? Including closure orders for 22 of the country’s 41 operating mines, as well as an announced ban on any new open pit operations.
The Philippines Chamber of Mines said it will immediately seek to have these measures nullified. With mining leaders noting that the dismissal of Lopez underscores the fact many of her decisions were made with no legal basis.
Of course, there’s the possibility that a new mining opponent could be appointed as her replacement. But she herself said the incoming secretary will face major difficulties going against the mining industry. Related: Saudi Power Struggle Could Destabilize The Entire Middle East
All of which suggests things may get back to near normal for production and development here. A fact that caused nickel prices to fall 3 percent in the wake of the news — as investors bet this former world-leading producer could now ramp up supply again.
Watch to see who is appointed to replace Lopez. If the new secretary is more mining friendly, we could see Philippines projects coming back to life — with knock-on implications for nickel, copper and gold supply.
Here’s to having a good run.
By Dave Forest
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