* Philippines is one of world's top nickel, copper, gold
* Government seeks to boost state revenues with new mines
* State to renegotiate contracts for better terms
* Moratorium in place ahead of legislation to boost state
MANILA, April 15 (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte has lifted a moratorium on new mineral agreements
imposed in 2012, reopening the door to fresh mining investments
as he seeks to boost state revenues to fund infrastructure
projects and other initiatives.
Duterte has issued an executive order that allows the
government to enter into agreements for new mining projects and
undertake a review of existing mining contracts and agreements
for possible renegotiation of the terms.
The moratorium had been imposed while the government worked
on legislation to boost the state's share of mining revenues in
one of the world's top producers of nickel, copper and gold.
Under a tax reform law that took effect in 2018, the excise
tax on minerals, mineral products and quarry resources has been
doubled to 4%.
The executive order, made public by the presidential palace
on Thursday but signed a day earlier, directs the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources to formulate the terms and
conditions in the new mineral agreements in order to maximise
The department, however, is also tasked with strictly
implementing rules on mine safety and environmental policies
with the lifting of the ban.
The resources-rich Southeast Asian country is currently the
biggest supplier of nickel ore to top metals consumer China,
though less than 5% of its reserves of all minerals are
estimated to have been extracted so far.
Mining is a highly contentious issue in the Philippines
after past cases of environmental mismanagement have fuelled a
strong lobby against the industry led by local governments,
legislators, advocacy groups and the Catholic church.
Duterte, who had shortly after coming to office in 2016
warned miners to follow tighter environmental rules or be shut
down, has upheld a ban on new open pit mines, despite a push by
senior officials to soften the policy.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz
Editing by Ed Davies)