MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine miners are urging the government to lift a six-year ban on new large-scale mining projects in the world’s No. 2 nickel ore supplier after the state removed restrictions on fresh smaller ventures.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a memorandum dated June 18, but not widely flagged, that a moratorium on government approvals for mining developments would no longer apply to smaller projects.
Mining is a deeply contentious issue in the resource-rich Southeast Asian nation after past examples of environmental breaches, with only 3 percent of 9 million hectares identified by the state as having high mineral reserves being mined.
“There should be no distinction between large-scale and small-scale mining because their impact on the environment is the same,” said Ronald Recidoro, executive director at the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, which groups the country’s big miners.
“The wisdom (behind) the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining should also apply to large-scale.” Former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez in July 2016 reinforced the moratorium that had been in place for four years, part of her crackdown on the mining sector.