SMC yet to acquire ECC for GenSan coal-fired power plant

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 May) — San Miguel Corp. has yet to conduct a public hearing for its planned coal-fired power plant in this city, which is one of the requirements to acquire the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) needed to start the project, the regional Environmental Management Bureau said on Monday.

Wilson Trajico, EMB- Region 12 division chief for environmental impact and monitoring, said that San Miguel “is not yet seeking an ECC” for its planned $300-million coal-fired power plant in this city.

“The regional office would know if there’s an ECC application. So far, we have not been instructed by our main office to help in the conduct of a scoping or public study, which would imply the company has applied,” he told MindaNews.

Trajico said applications for an ECC are coursed through the national office but the ones normally conducting the public hearing are local personnel.

The official made the clarification after a report said that San Miguel is planning to start the construction of its coal-fired power plant here within the year.

San Miguel president Ramon Ang last year announced the company’s plan to venture into a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Southwestern Mindanao.

Efforts to locate local officials of San Miguel for comments proved futile.

Already, the diversified giant company has acquired the tenements of three coal mining companies namely Daguma Agro Minerals Inc., Bonanza Energy Resources Inc. and Sultan Energy Philippines Corp.

Studies show Daguma Mountain Range has a coal reserve of 426 million metric tons. Initial exploration and drilling have blocked 55 million metric tons of minable reserves in 526 hectares of the mountain range in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Trajico said that the three coal mining firms have already been given ECCs.

Fr. Romeo Catedral, social action director of the Diocese of Marbel, has criticized the bid to extract coal reserves in Lake Sebu town and plans of San Miguel to construct a coal-fired power plant here.

“Ned is a watershed area, mining the coal there would pose not only environmental risks but will also threaten food security,” the priest said.

On the planned coal-fired power plant of San Miguel, Catedral has called on the city council to block the venture for the apparent danger it poses to the marine-rich Sarangani Bay.

Ned is a government-designated relocation site. Its near-to-surface location is best exploited through open-pit mining.

South Cotabato Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes (second district), earlier said that coal mining in Ned would be affected by the provincial environment code that bans open-pit mining method.

Fuentes signed the controversial environment code before her three-term governorship ended last June, a move that also poses a stumbling block to the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mines, Inc.

The Tampakan project could be the largest single foreign direct investment in the country should it proceed in 2016. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)