Semirara Mining and Power Corp has appealed to the Philippines Department of Energy (DOE) to lift a suspension order on its coal mining operation imposed following a mine collapse on July 17 that killed nine miners. The company has requested that the order be lifted within three weeks as stockpile inventory is likely to be exhausted by that time.

Semirara Mining president Victor Consunji says the company has around 800,000 tonnes of various grade of coal ready for shipment to various power and cement plants in the country or even abroad. If the stock supply is exhausted before the suspension order is lifted, the power plants that use Semirara coal will have to import coal.

He says these plants need to contract now since it takes weeks to ship coal from Indonesia and there is no assurance of supply that can readily be shipped to the Philippines.

Semirara produces an average of 26,000 tonnes of coal every day. It is the country’s largest coal mining site, producing 8 million tonnes a year. There is 60% of this amount exported while 40% is used domestically. Six major plants in Luzon and Visayas use Semirara coal to produce around 1500 megawatts of electricity.

Energy OIC-Secretary Zenaida Monsada acknowledged the threat of power interruptions but said the DOE would not be pressured into lifting the suspension only because the stockpile will be depleted soon. She said the DOE will continue with an investigation despite Semirara saying the likely cause for the collapse was continuous rainwater that soaked the land pile and which eventually caused a landslide.

The DOE and representatives of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources inspected the mine site on Tuesday.

Semirara management has promised P1 million for each family of the victims as well as educational scholarships for elementary until tertiary level for children of the deceased victims.

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