Philippines' environment minister Reginal Lopez has ordered the cancellation of 75 mining contracts, stepping up a campaign to stop the extraction of resources in sensitive areas. As David Pollard reports, the order comes after Lopez shut more than half of the country's operating mines.
For some a blot on the landscape, for others, a livelihood. But that livelihood - for these miners - is now dead. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino/English) ZAMBALES DIVERSIFIED MINING CORPORATION MANAGER, HENDRIK MARTIN, SAYING: "As of this moment, we don't have any operations and with the pronouncement, everyone's sad and they're looking for jobs elsewhere." Hendrik was speaking in early February - after four mines here in Zambales Province were closed. In total, 23 of the Philippines 41 mines ordered shut as part of a crackdown. Companies accused of breaching environmental laws firmly in the sights of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez. She, now, also cancelling 75 mining contracts. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PHILIPPINE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES MINISTER, REGINA LOPEZ, SAYING: "I would prefer that they go away because that kind of investment which is raping us, we don't benefit from it at all." Where Lopez argues the mines silt up coastal waters and destroy watersheds, others argue the closures destroy futures. Possibly impacting 1.2 million people, according to an industry lobby. The alternative proposed for towns like Santa Cruz as a tourist destination - just not viable for this miners' spokesman. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino/English) COALITION OF MINE WORKERS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES PRESIDENT, ORLAN MAYOR , SAYING: "We cannot offer anything. Our islands here are too underdeveloped to become a tourist destination." Local environmentalists take the longer view. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino/English) ANTI-MINING ACTIVIST, EDGARDO OBRA, SAYING: "We have children and grandchildren who depend on the environment. Now, if our environment is destroyed, how will they live on?" Hanging in the balance for the Philippines - mining projects, some worth billions of dollars. Along with the risk that a world leading export trade in nickel ore could be about to slip out of their grasp.