Centermount Coal held an open house meeting at the Elkford Community Centre on Wednesday to both inform the public and answer any questions and concerns about their proposed Bingay Mine.
This new mine is set to be built just north of town.
Representatives from Centermount, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and SNC-Lavalin, the engineering consulting company that has been commissioned to do an environmental assessment, were all present.
The hall was filled with a series of bristol boards, displaying the plans for the mine and the various potential effects being studied before the company submits their proposal to the Province’s Environmental Assessment Office, which they expect to do in early 2018.
Chris Albrecht, a senior terrestrial biologist with SNC-Lavalin says that a number of scientists and experts from his company are studying a range of possible effects, from socio-economic, to environmental and even human health.
“SNC-Lavalin is leading the environmental assessment process for Centermount,” he said, explaining that the company is both assisting with the project development on one side, and leading the assessment.
They have been working on the assessment for the past year and a half, collecting data on the site and working remotely from offices around the province.
The company is studying the potential health effects that the mine could have on both human and wildlife populations in the surrounding area, air quality, water quality in both the Elk and Bingay Rivers, as well as effects on the local economy and recreation.
As for Albrecht, he is studying the wildlife in the area, particularly at-risk species that could be affected by the mine.
“We’re looking at the changes in mortality risk,” he said, from the potential for deer and elk to have collisions with increased traffic going through their habitats, to how the changes in vegetation could affect food sources for some species.
Aldon Harding, a longtime Elkford resident says that he came to the consultation because he’s worried about dust, noise and increased traffic on the town’s service road.
“Dust does come into town,” he said. “It’s just something you have learn to live with.”
He also hopes that Centermount will hire locally, in order to help boost the town’s economy.
“I think people here should be given preference,” he said.
Others at the meeting, like Dalene Whitehead, wanted to know how the coal is to be shipped from the mine.
“As potentially a future Elkford resident,” she said, “There’s just a lot of concerns about the future environmental footprint.”
The Valued Components document has been posted online and is open for public comment until Dec. 2 and can be viewed at Projects.eao.gov.bc.ca