Duterte in Philippines suggests surface mining ban will remain in place

  • The Philippine president has said he is considering extending the ban on new surface metal mines.
  • He also ordered mining companies to carry out reforestation programs.
  • The ban has been in effect since April of last year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continued his harsh speech on mining this week, suggesting that the ban on new surface metal mines will not be lifted anytime soon.

“Maybe next year, maybe I’ll ban surface mining. Sleep on it, ”he told reporters in the Southeast Asian country on April 9.

The ban on new surface mines for gold, silver, copper and nickel has been in effect since April 2017. It was first announced by the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of the then, Regina Lopez, who was previously a well-known environmental activist. To justify the policy, she cited the need to protect biodiversity, evidence of injury to communities and water supplies, and violations of environmental law by the mining industry.

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

His replacement, a former military leader named Roy Cimatu, supports lifting the ban, as does the Inter-Agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council, which called on the government to lift it last September.

Duterte also ordered mining companies to undertake reforestation projects. “I want trees as tall as me in six months,” he said this week. “If there isn’t one, consider your license revoked. Don’t wait for the day of your pain.

These would not be the first permit revocations by the Duterte administration – during his tenure, Lopez closed or suspended 26 mines that failed environmental audits and revoked the approval of 75 proposed mines.

“It is not clear from the president’s final remarks whether he means he is going to issue a new ban or just extend the current ban,” Rappler reported.

About William J. Harris

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