July 31, 2015
“We strongly reiterate our call for the complete closure of the Semirara coal mines and for the prohibition of mining anywhere else in Antique.”
These were the strong words jointly issued by the Antique Diocesan Social Action Center of Antique together with the Catholic Church’s social action arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines as they called for the complete closure of the Semirara Coal Mines in Antique following the recent tragedy which claimed the lives of nine miners.
The groups particularly cited studies which showed how the Semirara coal mining activities destroyed over 83.92 hectares of 31 species mangrove areas and more than two kilometres to sea of coral reefs from 2009 to 2014 alone. It added that Semirara also introduced toxicity to the surrounding waters and destroyed a rich fishing ground shared by Antique, Romblon, Mindoro and Palawan.
“Of the fossil fuels, coal is the most dangerous insofar as global warming is concerned,” the joint statement added.
Apparently, Semirara accounts for 7.5 of the 7.8 million metric tons of coal produced locally.
Global warming is largely caused by carbon dioxide and methane emissions which come from coal powered plants. It is a phenomenon that is melting polar ice caps and is raising sea levels, which makes the Philippines no. 8 among countries most affected by it.
These were the reasons why the groups expressed serious concern over the expansion of the Semirara’s operating contract up to year 2027, and its coverage from the original 5,500 hectares to the current 12,700 hectares.
“Unong pit, a Semirara mining area abandoned after its resources were depleted is now underwater. The 400-hectare Panian Pit is walking towards this watery death as well,” they said.
The tragedy which killed nine miners earlier this month occurred at the north wall of the Panian open pit of the coal mine in Semirara, Caluya, Antique. Back in 2013, the same mine pit also claimed the lives of ten people.
“We demand that the government recognize the direct contribution of coal mining and coal powered operations to global warming. It is the entire country that stands at a loss for every environmental disaster that hits it. Typhoon Yolanda alone…is a clear and strong testimony to the fact that the government can barely cope with the disasters brought about by global warming. Yolanda is not going to be the last of these disasters,” they stressed.
JING REY HENDERSON
Senior Communications Officer
(0905) 546-9977 / 525-1924