Duterte again vows to shut mines after deadly landslides in the Philippines

Duterte again vows to shut mines after deadly landslides in the Philippines
PHOTO: Reuters

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte repeated his call on Monday to shut all mines in the country following deadly landslides, hours after his minister halted all small-scale mining in a mountainous gold-rich region.

"If I were to try to do my thing I will close all mining in the Philippines," he said, presiding over a televised meeting of the government's disaster response team two days after a powerful typhoon struck.

Duterte has often criticised the mining industry, saying the environmental damage far outweighs any benefit to the economy.

His latest comments followed an order earlier by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu to stop all small-scale mining in the Cordillera region, where landslides killed 24 people.

"We have a problem with our mining industry. It has not contributed anything substantial to the national economy," Duterte said. Shortly after he assumed office in 2016, he warned all miners to follow tighter environmental rules or to shut down, saying the nation could survive without a mining industry.

Typhoon Mangkhut leaves trail of destruction in HK, China and Philippines

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    Hong Kong began a massive clean-up Monday after Typhoon Mangkhut raked the city, shredding trees and bringing damaging floods, in a trail of destruction that has left dozens dead in the Philippines and millions evacuated in southern China.

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    A taxi is left abandoned after breaking down in floodwaters during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on September 16, 2018.

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    A road is blocked by a fallen tree during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on September 16, 2018.

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    Trees felled by Typhoon Mangkhut litter a road in Hong Kong, China in this still image from a September 16, 2018 video from social media.

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    A car breaks down in a flooded tunnel during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on September 16, 2018

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    Damage caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is seen in Hong Kong, China in this still image from a September 16, 2018 video from social media.

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    Waves caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is seen in Hong Kong, China in this still image from a September 16, 2018 video from social media.

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    Damage caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is seen in Hong Kong, China in this still image from a September 16, 2018 video from social media.

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    Broken glass is seen in a restaurant as Typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall in China's Guangdong province, in Shenzhen, on Sept 16, 2018.

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    Damaged windows of the One Harbourfront office tower are seen following Typhoon Mangkhut, in Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018.

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    A taxi is abandoned in floodwaters during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on September 16, 2018.

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    Waves spilling over a sea barrier as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches Hong Kong on Sept 16, 2018.

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    In videos posted to Twitter, heavy rains and winds can be seen whipping pavements and buildings.

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    Cars are stranded in seawater as high waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residental district near the waterfront, during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Sept 16, 2018.

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    A car tries to navigate in the floodwaters in Heng Fa Chuen, a residential district near the waterfront in Hong Kong, during Typhoon Mangkhut on Sept 16, 2018.

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    Foam washed ashore by high waves is seen in Heng Fa Chuen, a residential district near the waterfront in Hong Kong, during Typhoon Mangkhut on Sept 16, 2018.

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    Waves crashes on the beach during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018 in this still image obtained from a social media video.

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    A damage is seen on a scaffolding during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018 in this still image obtained from a social media video.

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    A flooded area is seen after typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong, China in this still image taken from video on September 16, 2018.

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    Residents wade though flood water as high waves hit the shore at Heng Fa Chuen, a residential district near the waterfront, following Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong, China September 16, 2018.

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    Large waves hit Repulse Bay beach as Typhoon Mangkhut slams into Hong Kong on Sept 16, 2018.

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    People walk through a flooded shopping mall in Heng Fa Chuen, a residential district near the waterfront in Hong Kong, during Typhoon Mangkhut on Sept 16, 2018.

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    A woman runs in the rainstorm as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches in Shenzhen, China, on Sept 16, 2018.

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    A photojournalist walks amongst plastic debris blown by strong winds in Heng Fa Chuen during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Sept 16, 2018.

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    Broken glass is seen in a restaurant as Typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall in China's Guangdong province, in Shenzhen, on Sept 16, 2018.

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    A fire rescue worker helps a child cross a flooded street in the village of Lei Yu Mun during Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on Sept 16, 2018.

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    Fire rescue members help a woman to cross a flooded street in the village of Lei Yu Mun during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong on September 16, 2018.

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    A general view shows a street flooded from a storm surge during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Macau on September 16, 2018.

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    Bamboo scaffolding is brought down during Typhoon Mangkhut in Macau on Sept 16, 2018.

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    A women (C) steps through rubbish and debris left by Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Macau on September 16, 2018.

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    People battle strong winds as they cross a street ahead of the arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Yangjiang in China's Guangdong province on September 16, 2018.

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    A man carrying an umbrella runs under heavy rain and strong winds ahead of the arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Yangjiang in China's Guangdong province on September 16, 2018.

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    This photo by Taiwan agency CNA Photo taken and released on September 15, 2018 shows residents standing amongst debris at Shang Wu fishing port in Taitung county, eastern Taiwan, as Super Typhoon Mangkhut approached waters near southern Taiwan.

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    Aerial shot of houses destroyed at the height of Typhoon Mangkhut in Gattaran, in Cagayan province, on September 16, 2018.

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    Children use a basin to cross a flooded street in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut at Salonga Compound in Calumpit, Bulacan on September 16, 2018.

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    Rescuers retrieve one of the bodies trapped in a mudslide as a relative cries in Baguio City, north of Manila on September 16, 2018.

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    A man walks past aN uprooted tree a day after super Typhoon Mangkhut in Yangjiang, in Guangdong province on September 17, 2018.

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Mining accounts for less than 1 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, although only 3 per cent of the 9 million hectares identified by the state as having high mineral reserves is being mined.

Mining has been a contentious issue in the Philippines, the world's No. 2 nickel ore supplier after Indonesia, due to cases of environmental mismanagement.

The government estimates that 60-70 per cent of small-scale miners in the country operate illegally, many of them digging for gold, silver and chromite.

Cimatu said he was also revoking temporary mining permits given to 10 associations in the Cordillera region in the wake of the landslides.

Typhoon Mangkhut, which tore across the northern tip of the Philippines early on Saturday, killed at least 54 people, many of them due to landslides which some government officials and large miners said were exacerbated by illegal small-scale mining.

Some of those who died were illegally mining for gold near an abandoned bunkhouse owned by gold miner Benguet Corp, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.

The chamber, of which Benguet Corp is a member, said mining operators there had been repeatedly told to leave the area because of the threat of landslides.

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