The Government of Philippines has ordered a halt to mining activities on Tumbagan Island in Languyan, in the southern province of Tawi-Tawi, which is home to nickel projects.
In a media briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte directed authorities to push for rehabilitation of the land including planting more trees.
“The island has, at this point, been mined out. And while rehabilitation efforts are under way, the president is issuing a directive to stop any and all mining,” Nograles said.
The country’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau does not closely monitor the mining activities in the province as it is classified as an autonomous region.
The order does not include the country’s nickel mining region of Caraga.
SR Languyan Mining in 2019 stated that the island’s ore reserves have been almost depleted due to continuous ore extraction for several years.
The Philippines has been a supplier of nickel ores to China ever since Indonesia imposed a ban on the export of unprocessed minerals in January 2020.
The country’s low-grade material is used in the production of nickel pig iron, which is a primary ingredient for producing stainless steel.
Since Duterte came to power in 2016, he has repeatedly warned that mining operations could be halted if they were damaging the environment.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the new order and urged for an audit of all mining operations across the country.