The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has lifted a nine-year moratorium on new mines in the country in an effort to lift revenues from investments.
A new executive order reversing the ban permits new mining deals as well as the re-review of existing contracts for potential renegotiation. It also allows the Philippines environment ministry to compile strict terms and conditions for mine safety and environmental outlines.
The ban had been in place since 2012, though Duterte issued a warning in 2016 upon taking office that any mines that did not follow tighter environmental rules would be shut down.
More than a third of the total land area of the country, about 30 million hectares, has been classified as having high mineral potential. It is currently a significant producer of copper and gold and is a top supplier of nickel ore to China.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), which provided the classification data, noted that less than 5% of the Philippines' mineral reserves has been extracted.
MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano said that with the moratorium lifted several mining projects that had been pending can now proceed to development and then on to commercial extraction.
“This will not, however, mean that the protection of the environment and safety will be taken lightly," added Moncano.