MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he wanted to stop exporting mineral resources and might close the mining sector completely and tax miners “to death” if damage to the environment persisted.
“The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or another,” Duterte said in his State of the Nation address, his second since assuming power in June last year. “This policy is non-negotiable.”
The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also among the top producers of copper and gold. However, the sector contributes less than 1 percent to the country’s economy, based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
The country’s miners have been under fire by Duterte’s government for alleged violations that include building mines in prohibited areas like watersheds.
Duterte said miners have “considerably neglected” their duty to protect the environment and to repair damage done by mining. “You have to come up with a substitute, either spend to restore the virginity of the source or I will tax you to death,” he said.
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