Semirara to expand coal mine area in Antique
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) is expanding its coal mine to improve seawater control measures and raise coal reserves.

In an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) summary submitted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), SMPC is proposing to increase its total mine area from 1,200 to 1,630 hectares.

This will come from the expansion of the Narra Pit from 400 hectares to 550 hectares, and of the Molave Pit from 400 hectares to 680 hectares.

This will subsequently increase the total mining complex area from 3,369.25 hectares to 4,369.25 hectares, which is still within the 13,000-hectare area approved under coal operating contract (COC) No. 5.

SMPC said the expansion would address “widening of sea barrier for safer mining operation and better control of sea water seepage.”

The site development phase of the expansion project is to control seawater intrusion and to protect the pit from getting swamped by high waves, which is necessary prior to the operation of the expanded areas.

With the increase in pit area, SMPC expects to raise coal reserves by 34 million metric tons (MT), with the addition of 22.5 million MT from Molave pit and 11.5 million MT from Narra Pit.

According to SMPC, there are newly discovered deposits with the Panian and Narra mine areas which are suitable for open pit mining.

While it expects no change in its annual coal production of 16 million MT, SMPC said the expansion would result in an estimated annual production cost of P24 billion once completed.

Meanwhile, the expansion project will also include confirmatory and exploratory drills to ensure the long-term viability of the mine site.

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 its production is for local demand while the rest is for export.

The company expects the commercial operation of the Molave mine to end in 2023 while Narra mine – depending on coal release – is estimated to be completed by 2027. 

“These mining activities require a very dynamic drilling program and a vigorous exploration campaign not only to cope with the safety, geotechnical, and hydrogeological aspects of mining areas, but equally important is also to discover additional coal resources that would replenish mined-out reserves,” SMPC said.

SMPC had closed down two mines before. It had the Unong Mine in the island – which ceased operations in 2000 and is now fully vegetated with thriving aquatic population in its restored lake 17 years after.

Panian Pit was closed in October 2016 following the depletion of its mineable coal reserves and is currently under rehabilitation.

As of December, the company’s total production is already at 14.5 million MT, which is 12 percent higher than the total 2018 production of 12.9 million MT.

Meanwhile, coal shipment already reached 14.6 million MT, up 26 percent.

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

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