The public comment period for a proposed expansion to Teck’s Fording River Operations is open and seeking public feedback.
The Castle Project proposes expanding mining into Castle Mountain in order to extend the lifespan of Teck’s Fording River Operations near Elkford by several decades. The proposed expansion would begin construction in 2023 and coal production in 2026.
As part of the Environmental Assessment currently taking place by the Province of British Columbia, public comments are being accepted. The comment period opened on May 8 and will close on June 23. Although COVID-19 has made in person meetings impossible, two virtual open houses were held on May 14 and May 19 to gather public comment.
If you were unable to attend the virtual meetings, the presentations on the Castle Project and the importance of the environmental assessment process are still accessible online and comments are still being accepted. As it stands, comments on the project’s environmental assessment site present both sides of the argument.
Several commenters strongly believe that expanding the mining operation will economically benefit the local community while others profess their desire to see the project quashed for environmental reasons. As the province continues to gather public feedback and comments, there are other ways for people to get involved in the decision making process as well.
According to the province, “a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) subscription service is also now available for the Castle Project.” Members of the CAC will provide local knowledge of the community as well as the environment. They will be able to advise on the potential effects of the proposed project on the community and will be informed about important milestones along the process. Residents can become a CAC member if they wish to be more involved.
On April 8, the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) approved both the Initial Public Description and the Engagement Plan for the project. With the acceptance of these two documents, the early engagement phase of the assessment began.
According to the EAO, this phase “allows for the early identification of interests, issues, and concerns of Indigenous nations, stakeholders, and the public that can inform project design, siting, and alternative approaches to developing the project.”
Comments can be submitted online at Projects.eao.gov.bc.ca and at EAO.Castle@gov.bc.ca.