Open pit mining ban to remain in place in Philippines

The Philippine environment minister has confirmed that a ban on new open pit mining will remain in place after President Rodrigo Duterte rejected a government panel recommending a reversal.

The ban was implemented in April by former environment minister Regina Lopez who claimed that the process of top soil mineral extraction ruins the economic potential of the mined areas.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu told Reuters: “The President sets the policy. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will implement what the President deems as best for the country’s interest.”

Duterte himself also announced he had rejected a recommendation by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to lift the ban, as such mining activity is “destroying the soil and environment and no corrective measure is immediately (being) implemented.”

The controversial ban will halt the development of the US$5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in Southern Mindanao island, the biggest stalled mining project in the Southeast Asian nation.

After enacting the ban, Lopez said the Tampakan project would cover an area spanning 700 soccer fields, disrupting land which would otherwise be used for agricultural development.

Furthemore, progress on the $1.2 billion Silangan copper-gold mine in Mindanao will also be frozen under the ban.