Philippine mine closures demonstrate contract alteration risks in the mining sector

Recent mine closures, strongly supported by President Rodrigo Duterte, highlight significant contract alteration risks. The current administration has shown a preparedness to sacrifice mining revenues and aggressively revise prior decisions in order to ensure compliance with stricter environmental standards. The immediate closure of 23 of 41 metal mines, plus the suspension of another five, was ordered this month amid an environmental clampdown. The squeeze mostly affects nickel mines—that account for roughly half of domestic output and 8% of world supply—along with the country’s largest gold mine operated by Australia's Oceanagold. Environment secretary Gina Lopez said she had chosen to close many of the mines, rather than issue penalties, given her belief that mines should not operate in a watershed—and therefore should never have been approved in the first place.