Philippine President Duterte links miners to destabilisation plot, wants mining ban

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talks to reporters after a news conference at the presidential palace in Manila.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte talks to reporters after a news conference at the presidential palace in Manila.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (March 13) accused some miners of funding efforts to destabilise his government as he talked about a possible plan to impose a ban on mining given the environmental damage producers have caused.

"I know that some of you are giving funding to the other side to destabilise me," Duterte told a media briefing, referring to companies in the mining sector he did not name.

Duterte, who has previously said the South-east Asian nation can survive without a mining sector, added at the Monday briefing that it may be "worthwhile" for Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to implement a ban on mining.

Duterte said he's looking at a total mining ban "and then we'll talk."

There is currently no ban on mining in the Philippines, the world's top nickel ore supplier.

Lopez last month ordered the closure of 23 of the country's 41 mines to protect watersheds. She also suspended another five for environmental infringements.

Duterte said he wants to meet with local miners so they can explain to him what led to the destruction of the environment in areas where they operate.

The firebrand leader has said the government can live without an estimated 70 billion Philippine pesos (S$2 billion) a year in revenue from the mining sector.

"You think you can live with it (environmental degradation) because of the 70 billion (pesos) or because they contributed to campaign funds? Not me," Duterte said, while showing pictures of the environmental harm mining has caused.