Philippines' minister stands by call to shut mines ahead of review

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 19, 2017 10:09 PM

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' environment minister said on Monday she stands by a decision to shut more than half of the country's operating mines and bar mining in watershed zones ahead of an interagency meeting later in the day to review the move.

"My stand on no mining in watersheds is staunch," Regina Lopez told Reuters by phone. "It's madness to do any kind of extractive industry in areas which are the source of the water supply of the island."

Lopez earlier this month ordered the closure of 23 of the Southeast Asian nation's 41 mines and suspended five others for harming watershed areas and causing siltation in coastal waters.

Last week, she ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts, or nearly a third of mineral production sharing agreements for mines that have yet to go into production, for being located in watershed zones.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)