The Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered Semirara Mining & Power Corporation (SMPC) to clarify the allegations of environment-related violations raised against its coal-mining operations by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Due to such allegations and other issues, DENR Secretary Regina Lopez said her agency will issue a show-cause order to the country’s biggest coal miner covering the Molave Coal Project.
The DENR will give the miner seven days to explain why its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) shouldn’t be withdrawn.
“It will not be easy to close, because we don’t want brownouts,” Lopez said, noting that coal is still critical in the country’s energy mix.
“The problem is that Semirara produces low grade cheap coal and [our power sector is]still very much dependent on coal. We don’t want to have brownouts but Semirara has to get its act together,” Lopez said.
In a letter dated 12 August 2016 to Semirara Chief Executive Officer Isidro A. Consunji, the DOE asked the company to explain in writing the collateral issues such as toxic waste, sulfur content, mining overburden, and land-grabbing and deprivation of livelihood raised by the DENR against the mining industry which includes Semirara.
The DOE asked the company to submit a report within 48 hour, saying strict compliance with the obligations under the ECC is critical to the stability of the coal supply requirements of the country.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Monday, SMPC said it received via facsimile a letter from the DOE.
The department noted the collateral issues raised against the company, including toxic waste affecting the mangroves; sulfur content of coal produced; adverse effect on the lives of seaweed farmers; poverty level in Semirara at 47 percent; mining overburden affecting the housing community within your operating area; and land-grabbing.
“Further, the DOE’s technical staff and other concerned government agencies will be conducting technical audit(s) at the corporation’s operating site to look into and assess the matter,” the disclosure read.
SMPC produces 97 percent of the country’s coal output, supplying 30 percent of the power industry’s requirement.
The 600-MW Calaca power plant was designed to specifically take in coal from Semirara.