Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday has issued an administrative order banning all prospective open-pit mines in the country.
Lopez said the total ban, contained in DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-10, shall cover "open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores."
She, however, clarified that quarrying will not be covered by the ban as such method of extraction would only be regulated.
A quarry is an open-pit mine that produces building materials and dimension stones, such as granite, marble and limestone, among others.
Lopez said the destructive nature and its potential for a disaster were the main reasons why she decided to impose a ban on open-pit mining.
According to the environment chief, open-pit mining is a financial liability, poses risks to host communities, and kills the economic potential of the community.
"I'd rather put a policy to ban it (open-pit mining) now that we do not have the technology for it yet," Lopez told a press conference.
Lopez also noted that most mining disasters in the country were due to the tailings spills associated with open-pit mining.
The history of Philippine mining, she added, would show that most open pits have ended up as "perpetual liabilities," causing adverse effects to the environment because of the level of acidity in those areas.
Under the order, mining contractors who have not commenced commercial operation but have approved Declarations of Mining Project Feasibility for open pit mining are given a period of six months to review their planned mining methods.
"The order is also for providing water quality standards in open pits. At any point in time, the acidic water will never be allowed because it poses risk to the communities nearby," Lopez pointed out. ###