By Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY (17-Mar-2013) – An Australian company has announced that it will soon start its coal mining operations within the island province of Catanduanes in Bicol.
In a statement reaching here over the week, Altura Mining Philippines Inc. (AMPI), a local subsidiary of Australian-owned Altura Mining Limited (ASX: AJM). said the exploration activities are in line with the approved work program and stakeholder consultation process.
The Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the mining rights to AMPI in March 2012 following its successful bid for the first of three coal operating contracts under the Philippine Energy Contracting Round 4 (PECR4).
The mining site initially covers 7,000 hectares identified as “Area 3 Catanduanes,” the same site covered by a contract earlier awarded by the DOE under the PECR of 2009 to Monte Oro Resources and Energy, Inc. which backed out amid strong opposition mounted by local environmentalists some three years ago.
Altura said it is awaiting confirmation of the results of its two remaining bids but did not mention if the areas it is targeting are also in Catanduanes.
The island province, sitting at the eastern seaboard of the Philippines, is gifted with over 1.2 million metric tons of high-quality coal deposits within an 8,000-hectare land area.
When converted into cash based on the prevailing world market price, this volume would be worth P9.4 billion, a recent report citing a US geological survey said.
Area 3 Catanduanes straddles the municipalities of Caramoran, Bagamanoc, Panganiban and Viga–all major abaca and coconut-producing municipalities that sit at the heart of the 1,511.5-square-kilometer island.
The acquisition of Area 3 brings Altura’s total Southeast Asian coal exploration holdings to over 24,000 hectares.
None of the coal to be produced by the firm in the country will be exported, with its Philippine investment geared towards the domestic power supply.(PNA)