The Department of Energy (DOE) said it has immediately suspended the operations of Semirara Mining Corp. in Caluya, Antique after its open pit coal mine collapsed Friday morning, leaving at least three workers workers while about six others are still missing.
Secretary Zenaida Monsada, officer in charge of the DOE, ordered the immediate suspension of Semirara’s coal operating contract (COC) 5-Antique effective immediately.
In a letter sent to Semirara Mining, the DOE said they were forming an investigation committee to look into the incident.
The DOE said the incident occurred at about 3:30 a.m. at the north edge of the Panian mine site, involving nine workers. The company immediately launched search and rescue operations for the six workers who were still missing, after three bodies have been found as announced by the media earlier in the day.
“Our prayers are with the families of the victims and we have directed Semirara Mining to focus on search and rescue operations,” said Monsada.
For its part, Semirara Mining said: “The company is investigating the cause of the accident in coordination with authorities.”
It said it is also coordinating with national and local authorities to keep them updated on the search and rescue efforts and other necessary measures, including ensuring the adequate supply of coal for power generation since it has stopped operations in the affected area in compliance with a DOE order.
Semirara said it will be issuing regular advisories to keep the public informed of developments.
“Management has condoled with the families of the victims and is giving them full support,” it added.
In February 2013, the company was also forced to stop operations after a landslide killed five workers. Semirara, the country’s biggest coal producer, was only allowed by the DOE to resume operations two months later.