MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is planning to limit the amount of land that miners can develop at any one time to boost environmental rehabilitation, a move that miners say may cut output of nickel ore in last year’s top supplier to China.
The new curbs, contained in a draft government order reviewed by Reuters and confirmed by senior officials, follow a crackdown last year that has left more than half the country’s mines facing suspension or closure due to environmental breaches.
Mining is a deeply contentious issue in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country after past examples of environmental mismanagement.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who warned miners to follow tighter environmental rules or shut down shortly after he took office in 2016, has so far upheld a ban on new open pit mines, despite a push by senior officials to soften the policy.
The latest move will initially target the country’s 30 nickel mines, which made up more than half of the country’s 50 operating mines as of end-2017. But officials say it could eventually extend to other metals.