Nickel leads fall in LME metals as Philippines rejects environment minister

Nickel led falls for metals prices Wednesday, following the decision by parliament in the Philippines to reject the appointment of an environment minister who has been tough on miners in the country, the world’s largest producer of the metal.

Nickel prices fell 2.5 per cent to a low of $9,260 a tonne, just above the 10-month low of $9,185 hit last month. Copper also fell 2.4 per cent in morning trading, while zinc was down 1.6 per cent.

The Philippine parliament on Tuesday rejected the appointment of Regina Lopez as environment minister, which could mean she will have to give up her office. Ms Lopez is the third minister to be rejected this year under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Last year Ms Lopez ordered an audit of the country’s nickel mines. She had wanted to close or suspend mines producing around 8.7 per cent of world supply on environmental grounds.

Analysts at Commerzbank said:

While it is not yet clear whether Lopez’s orders will be reversed, the biggest concerns of market participants about prolonged supply outages in what last year was the world’s largest nickel mining producer country appear to have been allayed for the time being.

Along with a relaxation this year of exports from Indonesia, this should “preclude any lasting rise in nickel prices,” they said.

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