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Australian nickel miners slipped on Thursday after the Philippines rejected the appointment of an environment minister who ordered an audit of the country’s nickel mines.

The price of the metal fell 3 per cent on Wednesday to $9,230 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange after the Philippines’ parliament rejected the appointment of Regina Lopez to environment and natural resources secretary. The Philippines is the world’s largest producer of nickel.

Ms Lopez had called for a ban on open pit mining on environmental grounds and wanted to close or suspend mines that produce around 8.7 per cent of world supply of the metal.

Australian nickle producer Western Areas tumbled as much as 5 per cent on Thursday easing to be flat at A$2.06 a share. Nickel miner Independence Group fell as much as 4.7 per cent easing to be down 3.3 per cent at A$2.98 per share. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is down 0.5 per cent.

Western Areas and Independence Group are among the worst performing miners in the month to date down 7.2 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively.

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