MANILA, June 27 (Reuters) – The new Philippines environment minister said on Tuesday he may decide next month on the fate of dozens of mining operations and contracts that his predecessor ordered closed, suspended or cancelled to protect watersheds and other natural resources.
Roy Cimatu said he plans to visit mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier to see if they are operating responsibly as he takes a slow approach towards a sector that was the target of a 10-month crackdown led by the previous minister, Regina Lopez.
Cimatu, a former soldier, took over the environment ministry post on May 8, shortly after the dismissal of Lopez, who ordered the closure or suspension of 26 operating mines and revoked 75 mining contracts in what she said was a fight against “greedy miners” threatening public heath and nature.
“Hopefully by next month we can come up with the decision on appeals regarding” the mining contracts, Cimatu told reporters at an industry forum.
“I am going slowly about these issues on mining, I will concentrate first on the environment. But that does not mean mining isn’t a priority. That’s why I have plans to visit some mining companies.”
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