North Coal is proposing the Michel Coal Project, a metallurgical coal mine that may one day be located just 15 kilometres southeast of Sparwood. Photo Submitted

Participant funding available for Michel Coal Project assessment

The proposed coal mine would be located about 15 kilometres southeast of Sparwood, B.C.

A proposed metallurgical coal mine southeast of Sparwood will undergo an environmental and impact assessment before moving forward and funding is available for groups and individuals who would like to participate in the process.

The Michel Coal Project is a proposed coal mine located approximately 15 kilometres southeast of Sparwood B.C. that would be run by North Coal Limited, a subsidiary of Australia’s CoalMont Pty Ltd. As the mine proposal undergoes various stages of federal environmental and impact assessments, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is making funding available for willing participants.

This funding is currently available for eligible groups and individuals “to assist their participation in the environmental assessment, including reviewing and providing comments on the Environmental Impact Statement or its summary, the draft Environmental Assessment Report, and the potential environmental assessment conditions,” the agency stated on their website.

The Michel Coal Project would include two open pit mines and produce between 2.3 and 4 million tonnes of raw coal per year. The mine life of the project is estimated at 30 years, after which the mine would be decommissioned and abandoned.

Applications for the funding are being accepted until July 16, 2020. The recipients and the amount of funding allocated will be announced at a later date. The application itself lists several eligibility criteria in order to narrow down the applicants.

When applying, you must identify yourself as either an individual, an incorporated nonprofit organization, an unincorporated association, group or organizations, a band (as defined by the Indian Act), an Aboriginal government created from a self-government agreement, a trust or a limited partnership.

Individuals or groups must also fall into at least one of four eligibility categories in order to receive the funding. Having a direct, local interest in the project is one category. This would apply to residents of the area who are living or owning property near the proposed mine. Another category requires the applicant to have community knowledge or Aboriginal traditional knowledge that might be relevant to the assessments. Being able to provide expert information related to the anticipated environmental effects of the project is another way to get involved and finally, applicants can have an interest in the potential impacts of the project on treaty lands, settlement lands or traditional territories.

The Impact Assessment Agency “recognizes that it is more challenging to undertake meaningful public engagement in light of the circumstanes arising from COVID-19,” according to their website. As a result, the agency is looking into ways to adjust community consultation activities and be more flexible with their processes in order to keep everyone safe and healthy but still fulfill their responsibility to meaningfully engage with the affected communities.

For more information on the Michel Coal Project or to apply for participant funding, visit Canada.ca/iaac and access the Funding Programs link.



editor@thefreepress.ca

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