Bingay mine threatens wildlife and water

An open pit coal mine proposed for the Elk Valley would jeopardize a crucial international wildlife corridor.

An open pit coal mine proposed for the Elk Valley would jeopardize a crucial international wildlife corridor and contravene a United Nations recommendation for a moratorium on new coal mines in the Elk River.

This mine would add to five existing coal mines, four mine expansion proposals and three exploration projects in the Elk valley.  The Elk River already has alarmingly high levels of selenium from existing coal mines. This is simply too much stress for this watershed.

The proposed mine, 21 kilometres north of Elkford, is located entirely within identified Ungulate Winter Range, a habitat that is already heavily impacted by historical mining activities. At completion, it would be more than a square kilometre in area, and up to 500 metres deep.

The Bingay mine site forms part of the same wildlife corridor that includes the Flathead River Valley and Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In a 2010 report (, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee called for a long term moratorium on mining developments in the Elk Valley.

Sierra Club BC, Wildsight, CPAWS BC and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) are asking for a comprehensive long-term plan for the entire Elk Valley that reconciles its world-class wildlife and wilderness values with its metallurgical coal resources, in keeping with the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee report. –

Wildsight welcomes constructive critique of our work. We work with leading researchers in the field of conservation and ecology and invite feedback from scientists and the public. We regularly incorporate new information that helps guide our work. Wildsight’s agenda and finances are open to the public through our website,

The critique by Mr. Visetin (The Lawn Doctor) in last weeks paper is an opinion piece that is not based on the facts. It is written in the same vein as previous Think Twice attacks on the Canadian Cancer Society and Wildsight for our position on cosmetic pesticides.

The writer denies the fact that UNESCO has acknowledged that the Elk Valley is a critical wildlife corridor, and that it has recommended a moratorium on mining in the Elk Valley.

I would encourage readers to think thrice and review UNESCO’s 2010 State of Conservation Report ( which explicitly states:

”steps should also be taken to minimise the barrier to wildlife connectivity due to mining, transportation and communication lines and associated developments in the Crowsnest Pass of British Columbia and to plan and implement relevant mitigation measures. The mission recommended a long-term moratorium be placed on any further mining developments in south eastern British Columbia in a corridor providing vital habitat connectivity and to the Rocky Mountains World Heritage property in Alberta. Other measures should include minimising future infrastructure development and removal of unnecessary structures, maintenance of core natural areas and rehabilitation of degraded areas, and development of a pro-active plan for enhancing connectivity in the area.”.


Ryland Nelson