Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is warning miners to comply with international environmental standards or shut down.
“You obey or we will survive as a nation without you,” he said at a media briefing on Monday.
Duterte and his environment minister, Gina Lopez, have unleashed a campaign to clean up mining in the country, the largest producer of nickel ore, and vowed to close mines if a government audit shows they fail to meet environmental standards, Bloomberg reports.
The Philippines is the top supplier of nickel ore to China and fears over output cuts have sent prices of the metal to the highest in almost a year.
Duterte, who took office on June 30, said the country can live without revenue from mining.
“I can forego the 40 billion pesos (US$850 million) I collect from you guys,” he said.
“The Filipinos will survive without you.”
Duterte defended his Environment Secretary, saying “you try to castigate Gina Lopez for being strict and yet you destroy the land, destroy the soil”.
He did not name names.
“You get rich at the expense of our native land. Do not do it. I will not allow it.”
House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez last week suggested an export ban on raw ore to spur domestic processing.
However, lower ore grades in the Philippines and smaller reserves would hamper investment, according to David Wilson, director of metals research and strategy at Citigroup Inc.
In other move on Monday, Duterte appointed Mario Luis Jacinto as director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, replacing Leo Jasareno, the agency said on its website.
Jacinto will assist Lopez in reviewing and evaluating mining permits and clearances.
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