On Feb. 14, she followed up by canceling 75 contracts to develop new mines, in what she called a âgift of loveâ for the Filipino people.
And on Thursday, she said she would soon issue an order banning open-pit mines, calling the pollution of rivers with heavy metals âa perpetual liability.â
âIt is time for social justice,â she said in announcing the initial ban in February. âYou cannot run your business and affect our farmers and fishermen.â
The crackdown has unnerved the mining industry; the people who depend on it have denounced the move as disastrous for the economy. They are joined in their opposition by indigenous tribes that stand to lose royalties paid by mining companies for use of their ancestral lands.
Environmentalists, religious groups and others have cheered the mine closings, saying that corruption has long given the mining industry free rein to pollute. Among the supporters is the countryâs popular president, Rodrigo Duterte.
âSons of whores, look at what youâre doing,â Mr. Duterte said last month, addressing the mining companies. He has dismissed concerns about the potential loss of tax revenue from closed mines, saying, âWe can live without it.â
The costs are substantial. The government has estimated that 234,000 jobs could be lost. The mining industry says the closings would affect as many as 1.2 million people, including employees of companies that depend on the industry, like equipment suppliers.
The countryâs annual nickel ore production would fall as much as 50 percent, Ms. Lopez has said. Such a drop, analysts said, would dent global supply by 8 percent to 10 percent. A temporary increase in world nickel prices followed Ms. Lopezâs announcement in February.
Many mines continue to operate while companies fight Ms. Lopezâs orders in court. They are also opposing her permanent appointment as environment secretary, which Congress is expected to vote on next week. (In the Philippines, presidential appointees can run departments before they are confirmed, but they must step down if Congress votes against them.)
Ms. Lopez, a former environmental activist, said that her office was…