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Coal Mega Project Eyed for Central Vancouver Island

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Raven Underground Coal Project
by Arthur Caldicott
New coal mine on Vancouver Island Compliance Coal Corporation, 60% partner in the Comox Joint Venture with Japanese and Korean partners each holding 20%, is proposing to open a new underground coal mine in the Tsable River watershed between Parksville and  Courtenay on Vancouver Island.

The mine is estimated to produce 2.2 million tonnes of coal per year  (reduced to 1.5 million tonnes of "clean coal" per year), or 44 million | tonnes over the 20 year expected life of the mine.
 
Options for shipping the coal (to Japan and Korea) include truck or rail to Port Alberni; truck or rail to Buckley Bay or Campbell River, then barge to Texada Island; truck or rail to Duke Point, truck to Gold River.
 
Two of the biggest issues with the Raven project are water and carbon: Water - impacts on groundwater and the Tsable River drainage, water used for washing the coal, water produced in the mining operation, impacts on salmon - these are perhaps the biggest environmental impacts and concerns with the project.

The project triggers both a provincial and federal environmental review.
 
A project description has been filed with the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and the project is now in Pre-Application status with the EAO. It will be reviewed, draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for a project review  will be published, and the public will be given 30 days to comment on the draft Terms.
 
When the final Terms will be issued, and the proponent will disappear for a while, preparing its formal application and environmental  impact statement. When the application is submitted, the project review will move into Application status. This is unlikely to happen for a year or more.

Two of the biggest issues with the Raven project are water and carbon: Water - impacts on groundwater and the Tsable River drainage, water used for washing the coal, water produced in the mining operation, impacts on salmon - these are perhaps the biggest environmental impacts and concerns with the project.
 
The project description says nothing of any substance about water - that will have to wait for the project application.  Carbon - greenhouse gas emissions when this coal is burned - this is an issue the government will eventually have to address, given how much coal BC mines and exports. So far, it has not been an issue government is willing to confront, neither with the existing mines (virtually all TeckCominco  operations), nor with applications for new coal mines (Raven is one of a number, not unique). But there always has to be a first, and there is eventually a right time - this may be the time, and the mine.

Folks concerned about this project have very few opportunities to intervene in any substantial way through the formal regulatory process.  This is an issue that will have to be dealt with on the streets, in media, and with elected representatives. There is no indication that the company will require any zoning or permits from the Comox Regional District.

Many authorizations are required from the province - including a mine permit and a lease for surface lands from the  Integrated Lands Management Bureau (ILMB) - and from federal agencies  (section 7.2 of the pre-application).
 
 

Project home at the BC Environmental Assessment Office:  <http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_project_home_351.html> | http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_project_home_351.html
 
Project Description
 
<http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/documents/p351/1250101234662_067793eb38 | 91ab678f34f2237aeb3fe8083ebab679d1eaa8371bd9aab8dc5fed.pdf> | http://tinyurl.com/lqkkl7

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