The Department of Energy (DoE) remains committed to strictly implement mine rehabilitation programs to encourage responsible coal extraction in the country.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said Tuesday that all mining firms operating in the country need to strategically develop not just environment-friendly mining operations, but also better rehabilitation plans.
Bolstered by the 2018 directive of the DoE, the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program of the Panian Open Pit Coal Mine of Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) won first place at the 2021 ASEAN Coal Awards.
“Recognizing the success of SMPC’s rehabilitation program in the 2021 ASEAN Coal Awards, I commend the DoE and SMPC for working together to show that responsible coal mining is achievable through the implementation of efficient mining operations and an effective mine rehabilitation program,” Cusi said.
According to Cusi, the success of the program will help end the so-called “legacy mines” or derelict and abandoned mines in the country.
In January 2018, the DoE discussed the possibility of conducting an accelerated mine rehabilitation program in SMPC’s southern Panian area.
The firm accepted the proposal and immediately implemented the DoE-approved rehabilitation program.
SMPC won the Special Submission category for its accelerated rehabilitation of the South Panian pit in Semirara Island, Antique.
The category is reserved for projects with the best practices and excellent cases in local coal development and utilization.
Entries were required to show the contribution of the project to energy transition and energy resilience, as well as low carbon sustainable development.
“We share this recognition with the Department of Energy, the driving force behind this unprecedented feat.
They wanted South Panian to be the model of sustainable and responsible mining in the country, and we did what we could to make this happen,” SMPC president and COO Maria Cristina C. Gotianun said.
The fastest of its kind and scale in the Philippines, SMPC’s South Panian mine rehabilitation involved the accelerated backfilling and reforestation of the 168-hectare open pit.
Panian pit was closed in September 2016 following the depletion of its mineable coal reserves.
Latest figures from the DoE showed that coal power still accounted for the biggest share or 40.8 percent of the total 17,840 megawatts installed capacity in Luzon.
Last year, the DoE issued a moratorium on the construction of new coal power plants as it pushed for integrating cleaner sources in the country’s energy mix.
In less than two years, SMPC completed what should have been a five- to 10-year rehabilitation plan for South Panian.
From an elevation of 260 meters below sea level — equivalent to a 78-story building, the mined-out area is now 5 to 11 meters above sea level with rolling terrain and over 350,000 seedlings of endemic and native trees.
Meanwhile, Cusi signed on Wednesday the DO2021-09-0014 or the Guidelines on Energy Efficiency Excellence Awards to institutionalize Energy Efficiency Excellence (EEE) Awards.
“Gearing towards an energy efficiency country, the Energy Efficiency Excellence will provide a venue to those who are exemplary in the field of energy efficiency — serving as an example and suitable to be acknowledged,” Cusi said.
The EEE Awards is aligned with section 26 of Republic Act 11285 or The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act on the provision of non-fiscal incentives of establishments that will implement or are implementing energy efficiency projects.
The EEE Awards aims to promote energy management systems and best practices on energy efficiency in designated establishments including local and government facilities.
The DoE said it is now in search of excellence in energy management for industries and buildings, outstanding individuals groups, government, and other special awards.