The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has issued an ultimatum to mining firms, stating they must commit to reforestation or risk losing rights to practise open-pit mining next year.
The Philippines is a major global supplier of nickel ore, as well as a prominent producer of copper and gold.
Mining firms in the South East Asian country have previously come under intense scrutiny by the government due to their perceived environmental violations.
A moratorium has been in place since April last year on new open pit mining operations, and Duterte has now warned that companies must conduct tree planting projects in places affected by mining activities.
Projects affected by the existing ban include the $5.9bn copper-gold Tampakan project in the southern region of Mindanao island.
Duterte was quoted by media sources as saying: “I want trees as tall as me in six months.
“If there is none, consider your permit revoked.”
A total of 26 mines have either been suspended or shut down since last year due to environmental damages. A review of the suspensions is currently ongoing.
Department of Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin stated at a meeting held by the country’s interagency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) last month that the first phase of the review will include legal, technical and environmental concerns and will be completed in three months.
The social and economic effects of the suspensions are set to be studied during a separate three-month review.