MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines has lifted a two-year moratorium on approving mining exploration permits, in a move that the government and industry hope will help determine the potential of some prospects in the world’s No. 2 nickel ore exporter.
The decision is the second mining policy measure to be amended in recent months, but environment officials said a ban on new mining operations is still in place, suggesting the impact of the new order will be limited.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who took over from committed environmentalist Regina Lopez in May last year, also lifted a moratorium on government approvals for small-scale mining projects last month.
Citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s push on “increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business to attract local and foreign direct investment,” Cimatu lifted the exploration moratorium in an order published in a local newspaper late last week.
However, mining remains a controversial issue in the Southeast Asian nation due to past examples of environmental mismanagement, and only 3 percent of 9 million hectares identified by the state as having high mineral reserves is mined.
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