By Lenie Lectura - August 6, 2017
SEMIRARA Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) announced it is making progress in restoring the topography and ecological balance of its Panian open-pit mine in Semirara Island, Antique Province.
“The Panian area used to have rolling hills of open grasslands with a variety of shrubs and trees. Our end goal is to restore Panian to its original landscape and create an even more vibrant ecosystem in the area,” SMPC President and COO Victor A. Consunji said.
The open pit was declared closed last year after the depletion of its coal reserves. To return the mined-out area to productive use, SMPC is using overburden materials from its Molave and Narra pits to fill up Panian pit.
As of June the in-pit of Southern Panian has been filled up with 66.4 million bank cubic meters (BCM) of overburden materials, which is more than 70 percent of the 90 million BCM year-end target.
Completely filling the Southern Panian pit by year 2020 would require more than 600,000 BCM of overburden materials.
Once completely filled, the in-pit of Southern Panian would no longer look like an open pit. The final elevation will be around +40 meters at the north side, +40 meters at the central barricade and +35 meters at the south side.
SMPC will also cover the area with humic acid, compost and other materials to add nutrients to the soil. This will be followed by a massive reforestation program that includes endemic and suitable plant species.
SMPC is the only power producer in the country that owns and mines its own fuel source, allowing it to generate affordable baseload power for the Luzon and Visayas grids.
The company spent P81.46 million for its community and environmental-stewardship projects in Semirara Island during the first half of 2017.
About P42.5 million went to the construction of community infrastructure. This includes 14 completed and ongoing barangay evacuation sheds, sports facilities, roads and bridges, among others.
The rest of the amount was spent on health, safety and environment-stewardship programs. These include the procurement of medicines, sponsorship of community health seminars, inland and mangrove reforestation and biodiversity conservation, among others.
“Our partnership with the Department of Energy allows us to make meaningful contributions to our host communities. Semirara Island is an excellent example of this. It has come a long way from being a poverty-stricken community,” Consunji said.
According to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, poverty incidence in Barangay Semirara was 5.79 percent in 2015. This is significantly lower than the national average of 21.6 percent during the same year.
Another indication of the improving local economy is the number of micro, small and medium enterprises in Semirara Island. From 155 registered businesses in 2013, the figure jumped 37 percent to 213 as of 2016.
Last week SMPC said it spent P3.5 billion on its mining equipment capital expenditures during the first half of the year.
The delivered equipment includes 46 dump trucks, six hydraulic excavators and other support machinery. By year-end, SMPC is expecting the shipment of 21 more heavy equipment. SMPC aims to increase its coal production to 16 million metric tons in the next two to three years to align with the national government’s push for power stability, optimal energy pricing and modernized infrastructure.