Philippine President-Elect Duterte Warns Miners on Environment – by Ian C Sayson and Andreo Calonzo (Bloomberg News – June 5, 2016)

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has warned mining companies whose operations threaten the environment to either upgrade their practices or face closure.

“Mining people must shape up,” Duterte told supporters Saturday at a Davao City concert celebrating his May 9 election victory. Much of what they do now, “especially in Surigao,” is problematic. “They have to stop. They are spoiling the land. They are destroying Mindanao.”

Mindanao, Duterte’s home and the second-largest Philippine island, is estimated to sit on $300 billion worth of mineral deposits, from nickel, copper to gold. The region is mostly undeveloped due to a combination of government neglect and decades of insurgency from leftists and Islamic separatists.

The Surigao region, comprising two provinces, is one of the more heavily mined areas in Mindanao, home to the nation’s Muslims. Surigao has been hit by calamities that environmentalists say were exacerbated by mining.

It is one of Mindanao’s oldest port areas, created during the Spanish colonization, and has abundant mineral reserves including gold, iron, manganese, silica, cobalt, copper and chromite, and has one of the world’s largest nickel deposits in Nonoc Island.

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