The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is still studying the possible lifting of the ban on open-pit mining, Malacañang said yesterday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that Executive Order No. 130, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 14, does not include a lifting of the ban on open-pit mining.
EO 130, which lifts the nine-year moratorium on mineral agreements, aims to spur economic growth and support projects and programs of the government.
“There is nothing in the executive issuance on mining which is EO No. 130 which lifts the ban on open-pit mining. I have conferred with DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda and he says the matter is still being studied by the DENR,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
He, however, reiterated that open-pit mining remains unacceptable to Duterte.
In November 2017, Duterte said he agreed with the open-pit mining ban given the environmental damage it causes.
Duterte, in his third State-of-the-Nation Address on July 23, 2018 also warned the mining industry not to destroy the environment, saying environmental protection is one of his government’s priorities.
“To the mining industry, I say this once again and maybe for the last time, do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged,” Duterte said.
Roque reiterated Duterte’s call to the mining industry to find other ways to extract minerals without destroying the environment.
“I understand from USec. Antiporda that both the President and Secretary Roy Cimatu agreed that the mining industry must reinvent mining in a manner that would ensure that it is sustainable and would cost the least damage to the environment,” he added.
Open-pit mining is allowed under the Philippine law, but Duterte had rejected previous recommendations to lift the ban.
The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also among the top producers of copper and gold.*PNA