President Benigno Aquino released a new executive order that could start the ball rolling for the mining industry in the Philippines, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. The new order still faces opposition from local governments and the Catholic church in the country.

The new order is the administration’s attempt to develop the mining industry through large-scale mining investments in the country’s untapped mineral resources while also curbing environmental damages and local displacement. A freeze on new permits will remain.

The Chamber of Mines, a group of large mining companies in the Philippines, exalted the shift from tough regulations. The Chamber told the Journal that the new policy “will encourage the development of the country’s mineral resources”. Top miner Xstrata is attracted to the country’s untapped copper deposits and is planning a mining project worth $5.9 billion, but is currently held up by an open-pit mining ban.

The record of mining-related disasters turned communities, local governments, and the Catholic church against the industry. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines warned the new policy “would worsen mining-related conflicts across the country”.

The Philippines is a small mining country with only 30 large-scale producers accounting for just 5.6% of total exports.