The Coal Mountain Phase 2 environmental assessment project proposal has been filed. The project entails a second operation, located approximately 15 km south of Sparwood. It would involve an extension of the pre-existing Coal Mountain Operations mine, which, according to Teck’s website, will be nearing the end of its service in the next six years.
Karen Christie, Executive Project Director at BC Environmental Assessment Office filed the assessment to Sparwood council in a letter dated September 18.
Council discussed the letter at a special meeting held October 13, with many councillors expressing concern over the project.
“I think it would be nice if we identified it also in our weekly distribution sheet and on our website that this is forthcoming,” asserted Coun. Hungry. “Because ultimately I would like to see a strong-worded or knowledgeable letter offered in regards to this and our concerns about it when the time is right.”
Both Coun. Andy MacIntyre and Coun. Sharon Fraser spoke in favour of more public knowledge of the assessment.
Chief Administrative Officer Terry Melcer assured council that a large part of the assessment process would require public consultation.
Coun. MacIntyre also noted, “As someone who spends a lot of time in the backcountry, there’s a watershed back there and a lot of habitat and environment there they would have to close down to the public, even the Flathead. When that time comes, when that’s discussed, it will probably cause a lot of uproar in this valley,” he said.
“It’s their property, they can do what they want with it,” argued Coun. Sonny Saad.
At Coal Mountain’s current production rates of approximately 2.7-3.5 million tones of coal per year, Coal Mountain is projected to support mining for another six years — according to Teck’s website dated April 2014.
Phase 2 is expected to produce 76.5 million metric tonnes of coal over an estimated mine life of 34 years, according to Christie’s letter.
An advisory working group consisting of provincial, federal and local government representatives as well as First Nations group will be created to address the environmental assessment.
Further information on the project is available at www.eao.gov.bc.ca