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Philippine mining stocks drop on possible probes

SINGAPORE -- Mining shares in the Philippines fell across the board Wednesday on reports that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte plans to crack down on the industry over environmental concerns.

Philex Mining plunged as much as 12% before ending down 10.86% at 7.14 pesos (15 cents). Nickel Asia ended down 4.57% at 4.80 pesos, while Global Ferronickel Holdings dropped 6.52% to 0.86 peso. The Philippine Stock Exchange's mining and oil sector index tumbled 7%.

While mining accounts for only about 1% of the Philippines' gross domestic product, it is an industry with a long history that involves a large number of companies. Many related business are listed on the country's stock exchange.

Duterte said Tuesday that he will conduct comprehensive reviews of mining claims in the Philippines and threatened to cancel any projects found to be environmentally damaging, local media reported.

Tighter mining restrictions could also weigh on foreign investors in the country. Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining, which has stakes in Philippine mines, closed down 1.47% Wednesday in Tokyo at 1,042 yen ($9.96).

The Philippine mining industry has come under fire before over water pollution and other damage to the environment. A smelting facility owned by Sumitomo Metal and other investors in the southern island of Mindanao was attacked by armed militants in 2011. The incident was reportedly triggered in part by destruction of the environment.

Duterte has long served as mayor of Davao, a major city in Mindanao. He likely considers environmental degradation a serious problem directly affecting the lives of regional populations.

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