Philippines extends mining ban, now forbids open-pits

The Philippines has toughened up its already hard-core stance on mining by banning open-pit mining in the country to allegedly reduce the environmental damage caused by the industry.

Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez, a well-known environmentalist, said her decision aimed to preserve the “economic potential” of the country, as she believes open pits are “a financial liability for government for life," Reuters reported.

Ban only affects planned mines, not the ones currently in operations, but it will take effect immediately.

Lopez, who began auditing all mining operations in the country last year and has already shut more than half them, faces a confirmation hearing in Congress that could lead to her removal as minister due to mounting complaints from pro-mining groups.

But her stance on mining is backed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who — since taken power last year— has made it clear that he wants his country to pursue stricter mining standards. If doing so implies shutting down all operations, Duterte has said he’s willing to do so.

The new ban only affects planned mines, not the ones currently in operations, but it will take effect immediately.

The Southeast Asian nation is the world's top nickel ore supplier, so the months-long crackdown on its mining sector caused prices of the metal to spike, but they have been in decline since February, with concerns over demand from China keeping the metal at a 10-month low this week. They hit a fresh low of to $9,215 a tonne on Thursday, the weakest since June last year.