Philippine leader to make miners pay for neglecting environment

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has attacked mining companies operating in the country, saying he will “tax you to death” for not protecting the environment.

Duterte is the latest politician in the Philippines to criticise the impact mining has on the country’s environment.

Earlier this year, Philippines’ environment and natural resources secretary Regina Lopez ordered the suspension of five mines, such as ASX-listed OceanaGold’s Didipio gold mine, and the closure of 23 mines because of the environmental impact of these operations.

In a state of the nation address yesterday, Duterte said the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and other activities that affect one way or another.

“And this policy is non-negotiable,” Duterte said.

“I am warning all mining operations and contractors to refrain from the unbridled and irresponsible destruction of our watersheds, forests, and aquatic resources.”

Duterte believes mining companies have “considerably neglected” a responsibility to protect and preserve the environment for posterity.

He vowed to increase mining taxes, or even stop mining, to make up for the damage the industry has caused to the environment in the country.

“You have to come up with a substitute, either spend to restore the virginity of their source or I will tax you to death,” Duterte said.

Several ASX-listed companies operate or own subsidiaries in the Philippines, including OceanaGold, Medusa Mining and Red 5.

Duterte also called on the industry to develop manufacturing facilities in the Philippines to process the country’s raw materials into finished products.

“At this point in my administration, if possible, we shall put a stop to the extraction and exportation of our mineral resources to foreign nations for processing abroad and importing them back to the Philippines in the form of consumer goods at prices twice or thrice the value of the original raw materials foreign corporations pay for them,” he said.

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