by Alena Mae S. Flores
The government started Thursday auctioning 30 exploration contracts and hopes to generate investments of P2.4 billion from local and foreign companies.
Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug told reporters each coal contract area could generate investments of P80 million over a four-year contract period. The development period for a coal area runs up to 20 years.
Layug said the government was promoting the development of coal areas because of the country’s coal potential of up to 2.4 billion metric tons. Coal production in the Philippines to date is just around 7.3 million metric tons annually.
The areas are mostly located in Quezon, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Occidental Mindoro, Negros Occidental, Cebu City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay.
Indigenous coal is largely mined in the Philippines by Semirara Mining Corp. in Antique, using the open-pit method. The balance is provided by small-scale and medium-scale underground mining operations in the coal-rich provinces of Surigao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Cebu, Negros Occidental and Albay.
“The developers can recover maximum of 90 percent annually of their costs. Net revenue sharing is 70 percent for government and 30 percent for developer,” Layug said.
The department has set the last day of submission of pre-qualification documents on Jan. 31, 2012. Opening of proposals is on March 1, 2012.
The department will assess the proposals based on four major criteria, namely work program, 30 percent; financial qualification, 30 percent; technical qualification, 30 percent; and legal qualification, 10 percent.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the development of indigenous coal remained a priority thrust for the energy sector to reduce the country’s coal imports.
“The companies will secure the necessary certificates and clearances before they commence mining. The national government will need to ensure that activities connected to coal mining will have the least or no impact on the environment,” Almendras said.