SMPC completes Semirara mine pit rehab

Published May 2, 2022, 3:11 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) has completed ‘backfilling operations’ at the Panian pit of its Semirara coal mine, one of the biggest open-pit mining ventures in the country.

The company indicated that it “fully covered the pit in six years, way ahead of the original 10-year mine rehabilitation plan.” Mine rehabilitation involves repair of land disturbed by mining activities.

“SMPC completely filled North Panian with earth material last January, four months ahead of its committed date to the Department of Energy,” the company reiterated.

Onward, SMPC stipulated that it is “developing a science-based plan to reforest and restore the biodiversity in the area.”

The Consunji firm added it also utilized “11.5 million man-hours to fill the pit with over 452 million bank cubic meters (bcm) of earth material, which is enough to fill 217,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

Relative to the completed rehabilitation of the mining pit, SMPC President and Chief Operating Officer Maria Cristina C. Gotianun stated that “we are mindful of our twin role as stewards and government contractor.”

The Panian mine spans 400 hectares with topographic elevations that ranged from 300 meters below sea level (mbsl) to 30 meters above sea level (masl) during its mine life, with SMPC illustrating that “300 meters is roughly the height of a 90-story building.”

The Panian mine’s production life cycle, according to SMPC, stretched around 16 years. So far, it has generated P12.7 billion in royalties to the government as well as for the benefit of its host communities.

The coal mining operations of SMPC served as the main driver for the P16.2 billion all-time high income posted by the company last year, reversing an earlier prognosis of SMPC executives of a supposed long financial recovery from the Covid-19 health crisis.

During the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Monday, May 2, SMPC Chairman Isidro A. Consunji stressed “we were able to take advantage of the dramatic upswings because of our Covid-19 adaptation measures, water seepage management program and power sales strategy.”

For added flexibility and better risk management, the company adopted a diversified power sales strategy that involved short and medium-term contracts, and substantial uncontracted capacity.

But while the company registered upticks in profitability for its coal mining operations, Gotianun specified that the financial performance of their power generating assets had not been as buoyant.

“Improved market conditions magnified the operating gains in our mine site and softened the impact of our power generation decline,” she conveyed.

Gotianun said, “It was a different story for our power generation segment as operational challenges persisted during the year. Combined plant outages rose by 14-percent, which reduced overall gross generation by 15-percent.”