Philippines’ Duterte suggests open-pit mining ban will stay in place

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  • The Philippine President said he was considering extending a ban on new open-pit metal mines.
  • He also ordered mining companies to carry out reforestation programs.
  • The ban has been in place since April of last year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continued his tough talk on mining this week, suggesting a ban on new open-pit metal mines will not be lifted anytime soon.

“Maybe next year, maybe, I will ban open-pit mining. Sleep on it,” he told reporters in the Southeast Asian country on Apr. 9.

The ban on new open-pit mines for gold, silver, copper and nickel has been in place since April 2017. It was first announced by then environment and natural resources secretary Regina Lopez, who was previously a well-known environmental activist. In justifying the policy, she cited the need to protect biodiversity, evidence of injuries to communities and water supplies, and violations of environmental law by the mining industry.

The following month, however, Lopez was ousted from her position by a House-Senate committee charged with rejecting or confirming political appointments. The committee included politicians with ties to the mining sector.

Her replacement, a former military chief named Roy Cimatu, supports lifting the ban, as does the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council, which asked the government to remove it last September.

Duterte also ordered mining firms to undertake reforestation projects. “I want trees as tall as me in six months,” he said this week. “If there is none, consider your permit revoked. Do not wait for the day of your sorrow.”

These would not be the first permit revocations by Duterte’s administration — during her tenure, Lopez shut down or suspended 26 mines that failed to pass environmental audits, and cancelled approval of 75 proposed mines.

“It’s not clear in the President’s latest remarks if he means he will issue a new ban or merely extend the current ban,” Rappler reported.

This story first appeared on Mongabay

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