Philippines looking at ban on ore exports in reform push, nickel jumps


UPDATE 2-Philippines looking at ban on ore exports in reform push, nickel jumps

* Banning ore exports part of boosting mining value
    * Miners say processing plants won't be viable
    * Philippines is world's top nickel ore supplier
    * LME nickel rises more than 1 pct on news

 (Adds comments from miners, nickel price, details throughout)
    By Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio JrMANILA, March 3 (Reuters) - The Philippines may consider
banning exports of raw minerals to encourage domestic processing
and boost the value of shipments, an environment official said
on Friday, as the government looks to extract more from its
mining sector after a crackdown.
    Nickel prices rose more than 1 percent on the potential for
supply disruption from the world's top nickel ore exporter, but
miners said following in the foosteps of neighbouring Indonesia
wouldn't be viable without big governnment incentives.
    Previous governments in the Philippines have supported calls
to spur domestic processing of raw minerals but earlier efforts
in Congress to enact appropriate laws have failed to take off.
    "It's one of the things we're considering for any mine that
we think should remain operating," Environment and Natural
Resources Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna told reporters.
    "In the long term that will help our economy because that
will increase the value of the products," she said, adding that
any ban would have to be considered by the entire government.
    Mining has come into sharp focus in the Philippines in
recent months after the country's firebrand environment
minister, Regina Lopez, ordered the closure of more than half of
the country's mines to protect watersheds, prompting an industry
backlash. [nL4N1FZ28P]
    Her decision is now being reviewed by the government's
Mining Industry Coordinating Council amid concerns over its
financial impact and criticism that due process was not

    The Philippines took over as the world's top nickel ore
exporter after Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed ore in
2014, aiming to spur development of higher value smelting
    However, Indonesia relaxed its mining export rules in
January, allowing exports of raw ore under certain conditions,
after facing a hefty budget deficit and missing its 2016 revenue
target by $17.6 billion. [nL4N1F23T4]
    "It means that (Indonesia's) experiment has failed," Ronald
Recidoro, lawyer from the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines,
told Reuters.
    "The policy direction of banning ore exports will not by
itself create a domestic processing industry," he said.
    To encourage processing plants the government needed to
provide incentives to investors and subsidise power and coal
costs, he said.
    The Southeast Asian nation has four mineral processing
plants, two for gold and two for nickel.
    "The question of value-added processing is a question of
viability," said Dante Bravo, president of Global Ferronickel
Holdings Inc <FNI.PS>, the country's No. 2 nickel ore miner.
    The mining council's review will cover 23 mines ordered shut
by the environment ministry and another five that were
    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the three-month
review, announced in February, would continue even if Lopez's
appointment is not confirmed by Congress. [nP9N1DG01K]

GRAPHIC - Philippine mine closures
 (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr.; Writing
by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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