The Philippines Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has signed an order to reverse a 2017 ban on open-pit mining as the government tries to revitalise the industry.
The ban was imposed by then-environment secretary Gina Lopez who blamed the mining sector for extensive environmental damage.
The policy reversal is the second major change in the past year to help stimulate the industry – and ultimately, the pandemic-battered economy. In April, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a moratorium on new mineral agreements imposed in 2012.
The Philippines' annual export revenue from the sector could increase by up to $2 billion over the next five to six years as new mining projects take off, according to the government. It’s currently China’s biggest supplier of nickel ore, and has substantial copper and gold reserves. However, the government estimates 95% of its mineral reserves remain untapped.