Total shutdown of Antique coal mines urged

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CALUYA, Antique, August 3, 2015—Not wanting more lives added to the nine killed recently, the Diocesan Social Action Center (DSAC) of Antique together with the Church’s social action arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines, has demanded anew the complete closure of the Semirara Coal Mines.

Complete closure

“We strongly reiterate our call for the complete closure of the Semirara coal mines and

for the prohibition of mining anywhere else in Antique,” the Church groups say in a joint statement.

“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,” they add.

Massive destruction

Backed by studies, Antique’s DSAC and NASSA-Caritas PH point out that coal mining activities in Semirara have destroyed over 83.92 hectares of 31-species mangrove areas, and at least two kilometres of coral reefs from 2009 to 2014 alone.

The research also shows how Semirara continues to worsen the toxicity of the surroundings, poisoning rich fishing grounds shared by Antique, Romblon, Mindoro, and Palawan.

‘Most dangerous’

“Of the fossil fuels, coal is the most dangerous insofar as global warming is concerned,” the groups explain, adding that Semirara accounts for 7.5 of the 7.8 million metric tons of coal produced locally.

Global warming is caused largely by carbon dioxide and methane emissions from coal-powered plants.

READ: Climate advocates raise alarm on coal power 

PH top 8

As such, the phenomenon melts polar ice caps which contributes to rising sea levels, making the the island-nation eighth among the countries it endangers the most.

“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,” the groups note.

Serious concern

In view of this, the groups express serious concern over the extension of Semirara’s operating contract to year 2027, and the expansion of 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 lament.

Not the first deaths

The tragedy which killed nine miners earlier this month took place at the north wall of the Panian open pit of the coal mine in Semirara, Caluya, Antique.

Back in 2013, the same mine pit had also claimed the lives of ten people. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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