MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine lawmakers have filed a bill seeking to ban mining in watershed areas and exports of unprocessed ores and will require miners to get legislative approval before operating, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to overhaul the sector.
The Philippines is the world’s top nickel ore supplier but Duterte says miners pay too little tax and not enough to compensate mining communities that suffer environmental damage.
“The challenge for government is to ensure proceeds translate into sustainable development, environmental protection, and greater transparency and accountability in the mining industry,” according to the bill authored by 22 congressmen led by Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the House of Representatives and a strong ally of Duterte.
The bill seeks to ban mining in all watershed areas, a policy enforced by Regina Lopez, the former environment minister who in May failed to get approval from lawmakers that confirm Duterte’s cabinet appointments.
Her replacement, former soldier Roy Cimatu, has so far not reversed any of her measures, including her decision to suspend and shut erring mines.
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