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Newly-appointed Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu poses for a photo before he was sworn into office by President Rodrigo Duterte (not in photo) prior to the start of the Cabinet meeting at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines May 8, 2017. Picture taken May 8, 2017. Malacanang Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters


MANILA (Reuters) - The new environment minister for the Philippines said it was possible to strike a balance between allowing mining and protecting natural resources, adding that he wanted time to assess mine closures ordered by his predecessor.

"There are countries where mining contributes a lot to the economy and environmentalists are not screaming," Roy Cimatu told Reuters in a phone interview on Tuesday.

"I think it can be done ... (balancing) environment (protection) and responsible mining."

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday named Cimatu as replacement for Regina Lopez, a move welcomed by miners but opposed by environmentalist groups who said Cimatu does not have a track record in environmental conservation.

A former military man who briefly headed the Philippine Armed Forces in 2002, Cimatu said he has yet to take a stance on Lopez's earlier decisions including her orders to shut more than half of the country's mines and cancel contracts for undeveloped mines to protect water resources.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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