DOE suspends Semirara coal mining operations

by Myrna Velasco, 17 July 2015
from Manila Bulletin

The Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered the immediate suspension of Semirara’s coal mining operations following confirmed deaths at its site.

The suspension order was immediately served by Energy officer-in-charge Zenaida Y. Monsada, while stipulating that such will stay while an investigation will be thoroughly carried out as to the incident at Semirara Mining.

This after three bodies of the nine personnel trapped at the incident site had been recovered and confirmed dead, according to the energy department. It added that “search and rescue operations are ongoing.”

The DOE apprised media that based on preliminary report forwarded to them, “the incident occurred at 3:30 a.m. at the north edge of the Panian mine” of the Semirara coal mining field. Semirara’s mining operations is covered by coal operating contract (COC) No. 5.

 “The DOE will continue to monitor developments,” Monsada stressed. As of press time, they cannot give thorough account yet as to the cause of the crash at the mining operation’s block.

In the last two years, this is the second time that major catastrophe happened at the coal mine – with the last one resulting in lost lives also.

 In a statement to the media, the Consunji-led firm Semirara Mining Corporation has affirmed that “a portion of the northern edge of Panian mine gave way,” and noted that six of the victims are still missing.

The company said “management has condoled with the families of the victims and is giving them full support.”

 Semirara Mining has added that it has been “coordinating with the national and local authorities to keep them updated on the search and rescue efforts and other necessary measures.”

While dealing with this tragedy, the company noted that it has been addressing concerns as to “ensuring adequate supply of coal for power generation since it has stopped operations in the affected area in compliance with an order from the DOE.”

 The Semirara coal mine supplies fuel to several power projects in the country, the major one is the 600-megawatt Calaca cola-fired plant which is also owned by the Consunji group.

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