Manila: The new Philippines environment minister on Tuesday said he wants to balance conservation and mining interests, signaling intent to settle a bitter dispute that has been one of the biggest economic conundrums of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency.
Former military chief Roy Cimatu takes over in the thick of a crisis for mining firms hit by a sweeping campaign of shutdowns and suspensions at the hands of predecessor Regina Lopez, a staunch environmentalist who was dismissed last week by lawmakers scrutinizing her appointment. The Philippines is the world’s top nickel ore supplier and markets will be closely watching Cimatu’s early moves in a post he had no idea he would be offered.
He admitted his knowledge and experience of mining and the environment was limited, and he needed time to get familiar with the task in hand before deciding what comes next.
“I will not take any action on things that I haven’t seen or read or reviewed. I will look at them first,” he told Reuters.