Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte stated recently that the Philippines can survive without revenue from mining companies. He warned mining companies—which contribute about P40 billion a year to government accounts—to strictly follow environmental rules and regulations or face closure.

Duterte declared that he was willing to forego the revenue if the industry doesn’t comply. “You obey or we will survive as a nation without you. I can forego the P40 billion I collect from you...and the Filipinos will survive without you. Either you follow strictly government standards or you close down,” he stated.

The new government has, to date, suspended the operations of seven domestic nickel mines for failure to comply with environmental regulations, a move that has seen global nickel prices increase. The Philippines is the biggest supplier of nickel ore to China, moving into that position after Indonesia banned shipments of unprocessed mineral ore in 2014.

The government crackdown coincides with the appointment of environmental campaigner Gina Lopez as environment secretary, a position that puts her in charge of mining operations for the government. After beginning an audit of all mining sites on July 8, the minister vowed to close more mining operations as public complaints mount against those causing environmental destruction.

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