The Department of Energy will send its own team to look into the operations of Semirara Mining and Power Corp. in Antique following the recent pronouncement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Environment threatened to cancel the environmental compliance certificate of Consunji-owned Semirara, the country’s biggest coal mining company.
“We wrote Semirara to explain the issues raised by DENR. We will send our technical team to assess,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Environment Secretary Regina Lopez earlier asked Semirara, Sagittarius Mines Inc. and Century Communities Corp. to explain why the government should not cancel their environmental compliance certificates.
“They will be given seven days to respond and if they don’t fulfill, then I will cancel the ECC,” Lopez said.
Century Communities, meanwhile, said it had not started any development despite the issuance of an ECC in 2015.
“As a responsible property development company, our business philosophy and practice has always been to include the welfare of the communities and its environment,” the company said in a statement.
“Hence, the company made a thorough and comprehensive study of the development project that focused primarily on the possible impact on the watershed and all the environs around the subject property,” it said.
Energy Undersecretary Leo Jasareno earlier cited complaints against Semirara, including massive clearing affecting the island ecosystem, degradation of water quality and siltation of the marine environment.
“The problem with Semirara is the open-pit mine is now below sea level. How would DMCI [Holdings Inc.] rehabilitate the area?” Jasareno asked.
He said the Semirara Island covered an area of just 5,000 hectares, while the pit occupied 40 hectares, adding new expansion area covered 600 hectares in the middle of the island.