MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) has cleared Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corp. of all environmental-related issues based on audits it conducted with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Semirara said a copy of the report was provided by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to company chairman Isidro Consunji on Sept. 21.
In the report, the DOE said the mining firm was not found guilty of the alleged violations committed based on complaints of the local communities in Antique.
“The DOE audit team verified that the mining operation of SMPC does not discharge toxic materials to the mangroves, the sulfur content of the coal if below one percent, there is no seaweed farm affected, and the dumping of overburden materials does not affect the nearby housing communities,” the report read.
The DOE report followed the environmental audit by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that found the company in compliance with all required metrics meant to protect the environment in and around Semirara island.
The EMB report also said Semirara was fully in compliance with its commitments to the community on the island through various programs including education and skills training, livelihood, economic empowerment, inland and mangrove reforestation, among others.
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Earlier this week, Semirara disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange the EMB Region VI audit report on its Molave expansion project, saying the company fully complied with all the conditions of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) including proper land use, implementation of climate change initiatives, risk management plan and rehabilitation plan, among others.
The mining firm said the DENR-EMB report was based on the environmental audit conducted on Aug. 30 to 31 by the DENR Audit Team composed of representatives from the EMB Central Office, EMB Region 6, MGB Region 6, PENRO-Antique, Provincial Health Office of Antique and Civil Society Organizations.
But despite the report, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said the agency has no final decision yet on Semirara’s environment compliance.
Last month, the DENR issued Semirara a show cause order to explain why violations were committed in in its Molave Coal Mine expansion project based on complaints of the local communities.
The complaints, which were investigated by the agency’s fact finding team last May, included “no proper stockpiling and disposal of the materials scooped out from the settling ponds, and other solid wastes impermanent, stabilized areas to avoid pollution of any water body and drainage systems, and maintaining them in safe and non-polluting conditions.”
Semirara has exclusive rights to explore, extract and develop the largest coal mine in the country located in Semirara Island in Antique province when its parent firm, DMCI Holdings Inc. took over operations from government.
Since then, it has transformed Caluya into a first-class municipality from fourth, the firm said.
Semirara supplies 90 percent of the coal produced in the country, and coal share in the power industry is about 30 percent.