DOE may soon lift suspension order on Semirara mining activities

Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy may lift the suspension order imposed on Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) depending on the mining firm’s compliance with its requirements.

DOE Undersecretary Donato Marcos said the agency had inspected Semirara’s mine site to validate if the company complied with the conditions for the lifting of  the suspension order.

“We have done three inspections and for every inspection, they submit supplemental accomplishments, documents so we had to validate them,” Marcos said.

The agency also directed Semirara to identify the risk areas to come up with a mining methodology for those areas.

“We’ve already asked about the technical and legal aspects, and they have fixed the issues, so we are thinking of lifting,” Marcos said.

The DOE suspended Semirara’s mining operations after  a mudflow incident in Semirara Island in Antique last Oct. 2.

While the suspension of mining activities had put a dent on its coal production, Semirara said it had already met its output target for the year.

The firm expects opportunity loss in production per day to reach 40,000-45,000 metric tons (MT).

To date, the company’s total production is already at 14.5 million MT, 12 percent higher than the year ago.

Meanwhile, coal shipment increased by 26 percent to 14.6 million MT.

This is not the first time a landslide incident happened at  SMPC’s mine site. In 2013, a landslide in Semirara’s Panian Pit also injured and killed some mining workers.

Another incident occurred in 2015, which took the lives of nine miners. The said incident led to the suspension of the mining firm’s operations for 64 days while the DOE conducted its investigation.

Semirara is the only vertically integrated energy company in the Philippines that mines its own fuel source – coal.

As the country’s largest coal miner, Semirara has two operating mines in the Semirara Island in Antique, which are the Molave and Narra Pits, where about 70 percent of production is for local demand while the rest is for export.

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