The Philippines defended Thursday its decision to allow a foreign miner to restart operations at a controversial gold and copper project that has been blockaded by protesters over alleged environmental violations.
OceanaGold—which is listed in Australia and Canada—has been given a new 25-year license for the Didipio mine in Nueva Vizcaya, the Philippine government said. The previous agreement expired in 2019.
Didipio had been one of the largest operating mines in the Philippines, where authorities are trying to revive the stagnant industry to boost state revenues and create jobs in a coronavirus-devastated economy.
“This decision recognizes that we need to have more jobs for our fellow countrymen in the time of the pandemic,” Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque told reporters, vowing regulators will “ensure there is responsible mining.”
Duterte—who had previously threatened to shut down the mining sector completely—has faced growing criticism over his handling of the pandemic that has thrown millions out of work.