Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett have issued a conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate to Teck Coal Ltd. for the Line Creek Operations Phase II (LCll) project located 20 km northeast of Sparwood in the Elk Valley.
The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The ministers also considered supplemental information concerning the Minister of Environment’s Order for Teck Coal to develop an area-based Management Plan to address water quality in the Elk Valley, through which the company will stabilize and reverse trends in water contaminant concentrations from coal mining in the Elk Valley watershed. A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision at: http://bit.ly/17hbCip
“We are pleased to have received the primary regulatory approval necessary for our LCII project,” said Nic Milligan. LCII is the next phase of mining for our Line Creek Operations and is required in order to maintain existing steelmaking coal production and employment levels at the mine.
We have already begun working with regulators to fulfill the conditions of the LCII environmental assessment certificate and this work will continue over the life of the project. As part of the environmental assessment application, Teck conducted a thorough assessment, which included ensuring protection of the environment and health as well as assessing social and economic factors.
“(The) first production of coal from LCP II is expected in early 2015. Clean coal is the coal, which has been processed, to ensure customer specifications are met and is then ready for transport to the customer.
“Currently, our first full-scale water treatment facility is under construction at Line Creek (West Line Creek Active Water Treatment Facility) and is expected to be operational in early 2014 at a cost of approximately $100 million.
“We are currently working…to create an Elk Valley Water Quality Plan that will maintain the health of the watershed and ensure continued, sustainable mining in the Elk Valley. It is our intention to ensure that LCII fully aligns with that plan.”
According to Teck, LCII will maintain the approximately 500 existing jobs and current production levels at Line Creek Operations, and extend the life of the mine by about 18 years.
The Environmental Assessment Certificate includes 26 conditions, which together with the design specified in the Certified Project Description will mitigate potential impacts of the project. Each of the conditions is a legally binding requirement that Teck Coal must meet to be in compliance with the certificate. It is also a legal requirement that Teck Coal build and operate the project in accordance with the Certified Project Description.
Key conditions for the project include that Teck Coal must develop management plans to mitigate local and cumulative effects on water quality and wildlife; develop a compensation plan to offset fish habitat loss and a regional fish habitat management plan; complete a population assessment of westslope cutthroat trout in the Upper Fording drainage basin. Teck must also verify the findings of the human-health-risk assessment. Working collaboratively with the Ktunaxa Nation, Teck must develop a number of plans, including a Cultural Management Plan, a Work Force and Business Opportunities Plan and an Economic Participation in Mine Closure Plan.
“Consistent with its enhanced compliance and enforcement program, the Environmental Assessment Office will ensure that is satisfied that the certificate conditions are met,” stated a MOE press release.
“The project will extend the life of Teck’s Line Creek Operations, which would otherwise exhaust coal reserves and cease operation in 2014. Phase II will produce 3.5 million tonnes of clean coal a year for an estimated 18 years.
“British Columbia’s environmental assessment process involves a rigorous, thorough review that provides for significant opportunities for First Nations, government agencies and the public to provide input on the potential for environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects from a proposed project.”