Philippines to decide on mine suspension appeals before year-end

MANILA, Sept 18 (Reuters) -

* The Philippines' Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said on Wednesday that it has granted a breather of another six months or until the year-end to five suspended mining companies, including two nickel ore producers, to rectify previous violations of environmental regulations before they can be allowed to resume operations

* "They have to take major corrective measures, including correcting tailings pond issues and river siltation," MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano told reporters

* The five companies are nickel ore producers Wellex Mining Corp and Aam-Phil Natural Resources Exploration and Development Corp, chromite producers Krominco Inc and Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corp, and iron ore producer Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp

* The industry watchdog has already recommended to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lift suspension of nickel ore producer Zambales Diversified Metals Corp and iron ore producer Strong Built Mining Development Corp

* Recently, the DENR lifted the suspension orders issued against nickel ore producers such as Berong Nickel Corp, Carrascal Nickel Corp and Emir Mineral Resources Corp

* The suspended nickel miners, in particular, have appealed to the MGB to speed up resolution of their cases, as they hope to be able to resume operations before Indonesia's ban on nickel ore exports begins in 2020, Moncano said

* Philippine nickel miners are likely to ramp up ore output by next year, but their production capacity is limited by a number of factors, including government-imposed mining curbs

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)