MANILA Feb 8 The Philippine minister at the
centre of a row over her decision to shut more than half the
country's mines said closure orders would be released on
Wednesday, after mining firms questioned the absence of any
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez
also agreed to release the recommendations of a panel she
created to review the results of a months-long mining industry
audit in the world's biggest exporter of nickel ore.
The panel had recommended only fines and suspensions,
sources told Reuters, but on Feb. 2 the minister ordered 23 of
the country's 41 metallic mines to shut and suspended five more
for alleged environmental violations.
Most of the mines produce nickel ore and concerns about
supply disruptions have rocked the nickel market.
On Wednesday, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines
industry group accused Lopez of "short-cutting" the audit and
decision-making process and said its members facing penalties
had yet to receive any formal notice from the minister.
"The process ... was not fair, it's not legal. She's
short-cutting the entire thing," Ronald Recidoro, the industry
group's spokesman, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News
Lopez, however, said she had issued an "omnibus directive"
before her Feb. 2 announcement and reiterated that her decision
was fair and legal.
"Our lawyers have decided (the closure and suspension
orders) should be issued to individual mining companies," Lopez
said in a statement on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by David Clarke)