Duterte rejects recommendation to lift ban on open-pit mines

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2017 09:27 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he has rejected the recommendation of an inter-agency body to lift the ban on open-pit mines.

Duterte said he is not accepting the recommendation of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) to lift the ban on open-pit mines, noting this practice of extracting minerals is destructive.

“You see, even if there is no study, you go to places where there’s an open-pit mining and you can see the destruction of the soil, the environment,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview.

“Ayaw ko (I don’t want to) because it is destroying the soil, the environment and there are no immediate corrective measures.”

The MICC last month said majority of its members voted to recommend the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining, adding it also agreed that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau should "take a close look and take appropriate action" on the possible expansion of 24 areas covered by mineral production sharing agreements.

The open-pit ban was ordered by former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, a staunch environmentalist whose appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

The ban would only affect new projects. Lifting the ban could open the door for some big-ticket ventures, including the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper and gold mine.

The Tampakan project in South Cotabato province on the island of Mindanao is the nation's biggest stalled mining venture.

Operator Glencore Plc quit the project in 2015 but development was first halted after South Cotabato banned open-pit mining in 2010.

Lopez earlier said the project would cover an area the size of 700 soccer fields in what otherwise would be agricultural land.

Duterte said in September he agreed with the open-pit mining ban given the environmental damage it causes, but would give mining firms time to find other ways to extract minerals. -- with Reuters