Philippine panel recommends lifting ban on open pit mining

World Tuesday 24/October/2017 13:31 PM
By: Times News Service
Philippine panel recommends lifting ban on open pit mining

Manila: A Philippine government panel on Tuesday recommended lifting the ban on open pit mining and the environment minister said he will support removing the restriction imposed this year by a previous minister and supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Open pit mining is allowed under the Southeast Asian country's mining law but the former environment minister Regina Lopez banned it during her 10 months in office, saying the environmental degradation ruined the economic potential of places where it was done.
A staunch environmentalist, Lopez stepped down in May after she failed to win congressional confirmation. Roy Cimatu, a former soldier, replaced her and was confirmed in his post by lawmakers earlier this month.
The Mining Industry Coordinating Council, after a meeting, said in a statement that a majority of the panel voted to recommend that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "lift the ban on open pit mining provided that mining laws, rules and regulations are strictly enforced."
Cimatu, who co-chaired the council with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, said he will follow the recommendation and present it at a Cabinet meeting in the first week of November.
Asked whether the ban will likely be lifted before the end of the year, Cimatu said: "Hopefully."
Removing the ban would allow the $5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato province on the island of Mindanao, the nation's biggest stalled mining venture, to go ahead.
Tampakan's development was halted after South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in 2010, prompting operator Glencore Plc to quit the project in 2015.
Lopez has said the project would cover an area the size of 700 soccer fields in what otherwise would be agricultural land.