THE Department of Energy (DoE) is investigating a mudslide at the facility in Antique of listed Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC), the agency said on Thursday, as rescue operations continue for a missing employee after the incident.

“We are thoroughly investigating the matter to determine the cause of the incident, and ensure that all safety standards and protocols were strictly upheld,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a statement.

Mr. Cusi said SMPC had assured its “full cooperation” with the investigation. The DoE said the investigation has launched on Wednesday and that it would continue to issue updates.

The DoE said its Energy Resource Development Bureau (ERDB) deployed a team of geologists and mining engineers to conduct an on-site assessment.

It said based on the aerial and ground inspections of the technical team, the presence of mudflow was confirmed at the location of the incident.

According to the mining firm’s initial report to the department, regular mining operations were ongoing with heavy machinery, PS27, working on the drainage canal at the Molave pit of the site’s south wall, when an irregularity was detected at 1 a.m.

The mudslide occurred five minutes later, at 1:05 a.m., hitting the PS27 equipment and its operator, it added.

Sought for comment, SMPC confirmed the occurrence of a mudslide at around 1:05 a.m. on Oct. 2 in Southwest Tungao, Semirara Island.

“The operator of a power shovel that was swept by the mudslide remains missing. We have notified his next of kin and have assured them of our full support to them during this difficult time,” the company said in a statement.

SMPC said it was fully cooperating with the DoE in the investigation of the incident.

On Thursday, shares in the company closed higher by 1.36% at P22.35 each. — Victor V. Saulon