DENR's Cimatu lifts open-pit mining ban

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2021 06:02 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2021 06:52 PM

A view of nickel ore stockpiles at a port in Sta Cruz Zambales in northern Philippines February 8, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File
A view of nickel ore stockpiles at a port in Sta Cruz Zambales in northern Philippines February 8, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA (UPDATED)— Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has issued an order to lift a nationwide ban on open-pit mining, which has been in effect since 2017.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano confirmed the Cimatu's order in a text message. The order covers mining of gold, silver, copper a,nd complex ores.

Moncano also said there are at least four projects that are ready to proceed, now that the ban has been lifted.

The open-pit mining ban was imposed in 2017 by then Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who cited its destructive nature and potential for a disaster.

She butted heads with economic managers of the Duterte administration, including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, over mining. Lopez’s confirmation as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was denied by Congress in 2017, but not before she instituted the nationwide ban on open-pit mining.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which had been working to have Lopez’s order reversed, welcomed Cimatu's decision on Tuesday.

"As most mining applications propose the use of the open-pit method, this decision will enable the industry to contribute more to our country’s economic recovery, particularly from the devastating effects of this ongoing pandemic through investment promotion, job creation, and poverty alleviation," it said in a statement.

Thousands of mines worldwide have adopted this primary method, including in Australia, Canada, and the USA, according to the lobby group.

It added that open-pit mines can be operated safely, according to globally accepted standards, and can be rehabilitated properly in a manner that provides alternative and productive land use after the life of the mine.

Chamber vice president for communications Rocky Dimaculangan said the DENR order was published in a major broadsheet on Dec. 25. 

Under the law, the order will take effect 15 days from publication.

—With a report from April Rafales, ABS-CBN News
 

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