CLAVER, Philippines — The Philippine mining town of Claver is busy with bakeries, fruit stands, pool halls and karaoke bars. In the mountains nearby, bulldozers cling to treeless slopes, scooping out red soil and leaving gaping pits. On the horizon, cargo ships wait to bring nickel ore to China.
Many here are afraid that none of this will last.
“If the mines go, then the jobs are gone too,” said Jayson Reambonaza, 31, who drives a dump truck for one of the area’s many nickel mines.
The Philippines, which exports more nickel ore than any country in the world, is in the midst of a wide crackdown on mines accused of violating environmental protection laws.
In February, Gina Lopez, the acting secretary of the environment, said she was shutting down the operations of 28 of the country’s 41 mining companies. Those companies, which account for about half of Philippine nickel production, have been accused of leaving rivers, rice fields and watersheds stained red with nickel laterite.