John Pumphrey, CEO of North Coal Ltd. gave an update to the District of Sparwood on the progress of his proposed coal mine. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

North Coal Ltd. in EA process for new mine

CEO says water quality at forefront of engineering plans

In his presentation to the District of Sparwood John Pumphrey, North Coal Ltd’s CEO, stressed that his company is taking a proactive approach to building a coal mine that does not impact the areas water systems.

That’s also, he says, why it’s taken nearly seven years for the company to get the proposals ready for the mine.

In advance of the company submitting their environmental assessment to the Ministry of Environment, Pumphrey gave a delegation to the committee to update them on the status of the site.

“The last five years we’ve been focusing on exploration type activities,” he said.

In 2011, their subsidiary, CoalMont obtained licenses for three sites just south of the Teck Elkview Operations.

The company will be mining from Loop Ridge, Tent Mountain and Michel Head.

Loop Ridge is the only site that has been mined previously, in brief bouts during the 1960s and then in 1993 and in 1998.

Loop Ridge was one of Tech Coal’s smaller assets. But back in 2000 when they amalgamated their larger projects the company dropped Loop Ridge, which was left in the ownership of Tembec, a Quebec-based logging company.

Subsequently, Tembec relinquished the asset and it became B.C. Crown land. It was in 2011 that CoalMont, the subsidiary of North Coal Ltd, at the time called CanAus Coal made applications to mine the three sites, which was granted in 2013.

Pumphrey says the fact that they are developing on an untouched site is a benefit as they look to engineer a system that filters their effluent free of any harmful materials like selenium.

“Unless we were going to address water quality issues,” Pumphrey said to the committee, “I personally knew it would be an uphill battle.”

He says his engineers have been back to the drawing board time and again, trying to get the design right.

“The verdict is not out,” he said. “We’re still working through designs.”

He said that the company has been consulting the Ktunaxa and surrounding community through the process as well.

“We’re in the final stages of an engagement agreement with the Ktunaxa,” he said, adding that the public is welcome to visit their Sparwood office. “The door is open for anybody.”

North Coal Ltd. is expecting to submit their environmental Assessment to the province in 2019.

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