MANILA (AFP) - President Rodrigo Duterte raised the pressure on the Philippines' mining sector on Monday (Aug 1), saying the resources-rich country can live without the industry if firms fail to comply with environmental laws.
Concern over the month-old government's mining policies had earlier helped drive global prices of nickel, a key raw material for manufacturing steel, close to 10-year highs.
"I can do away with 40 billion (pesos, or S$1.1 billion annual mining taxes). I will shut all of you down. You obey or we will survive as a nation without you," Duterte told a rare press conference, referring to the industry.
"You drill and drill, causing landslide after landslide. Then you tell us mining is a critical component on the Philippine economy. Of course it's income but you are also making a critical damage."
There was no immediate reaction from mining industry officials.
Natural Resources and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has suspended the operations of several nickel mines and halted approval for all new mining projects.
The Philippines is the world's top supplier of nickel ore and the main shipper to China, the biggest market for the raw material.
The country is also rich in copper and gold, though industry officials say the mineral resources are under-exploited.