ADDITIONAL safety measures have been implemented at Semirara Mining and Power Corporation’s Panian Coal Project after a landslide last July. The accident claimed nine lives while five dump trucks, an excavator and a wheel dozer were destroyed.

A new Slope Stability Radar (SSR) was installed to help monitor the slopes in real time and cover a wider range, augmenting the existing Total Robotics Station in monitoring slope movements. The SSR, which was procured before the slide happened, is an improved technology of the Total Robotics Station. Unfortunately, it was still in transit to the mine site when the accident occurred.

Additional consultants were also engaged to augment safety procedures, particularly concerning geotechnical and hydrogeology. Structural safety intervals were enhanced while new slope stability measures were implemented by revising some protocols applied during the wet and dry seasons.

The coal mining operation was halted on July 17 after a portion of the northern edge of, Panian mine gave way after 3am. The Department of Energy (DOE) immediately issued a suspension order of the affected area of the mine, while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also issued a Cease and Desist Order of the company’s Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC). The orders were lifted on September 18 and August 10, respectively after compliance by the company of additional safety requirements mandated by the DOE and after it was proven by the DENR that the accident did not inflict any damage to the environment.

In compliance with the suspension order from the Department of Energy (DOE), the company voluntarily suspended all its mining operations including non-affected areas. As a result of orders, total materials moved in the nine months to September 30 dropped 18% to 63.61 million bank cubic metres (bcm) from 77.27 million bcm in the same period of 2014. This volume excluded the 6.7 million bcm of materials unloaded to comply with the recommendations made by the safety consultants, which was required by the DOE as an additional safety measure.

Correspondingly, coal production dropped 21% to 5.57 million tonnes in the nine months from 7.01 million tonnes in 2014, with a strip ratio of 10.70:1, up 4% from 2014’s 10.31:1. Despite lower exports, owing to the fact that local customers were given priority over the inventory in the quarter, coal sales only dropped 1% to 6.13 million tonnes from 6.19 million tonnes in 2014.

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