2 Antique islands not in mine firm’s dev’t plan
ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) said it had already relinquished its right to “explore, develop and mine” Antique’s Caluya and Sibay islands, which were declared by the government as coal mining reservations.
In a letter to the Inquirer on Monday, Ruben Lozada, SMPC vice president and resident manager, said the firm formalized this decision in the 2018 Amendment to Coal Operating Contract (COC) No. 5 executed by the Department of Energy and SMPC.
Lozada was reacting to an Inquirer report on a resolution passed by the Antique provincial board requesting Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to review the mineral reservation status of Caluya and Sibay islands.
The board asked Cimatu to conduct a review, saying the mining reservation status of the islands had prevented residents to undertake ecotourism development and hampered investments in the area due to the possibility of coal mining operations there.
Under Proclamation No. 649 issued in 1940 by then President Manuel Quezon, the islands of Mindoro as well as Semirara, Sibay and Caluya in Antique were declared coal mining reservations. The proclamation covered about 38,100 hectares in Mindoro and 12,100 ha in Antique.
SMPC has been operating one of the biggest coal mines in Asia on Semirara Island since 1999 after it took over the government-owned Semirara Coal Corp.
In its disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Aug. 6, 2018, SMPC said the COC was amended “in order to optimize the development and production of coal resources [on] Semirara Island.”
SMPC operates the Molave and Narra pits at Barangay Semirara on Semirara Island. Rehabilitation is being undertaken at Panian pit, which was closed in September 2016 “following the depletion of its mineable coal reserves.” —Nestor P. Burgos
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