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Environmental assessment approval for HD Mining's Murray River coal project

Published by
World Coal,

Following considerations of a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office, HD Mining International Ltd has been issued an environmental assessment certificate for the Murray River Coal project, located 12 km south of Tumbler Ridge. This project is an underground coal mine, with an estimated capital cost of CAN$668 million and a 25 yr operating life and intends to produce up to 4.8 million tpy of clean coal.Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett issued the certificate, with legally-enforceable conditions that they believe has given them the confidence to conclude that the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur directly from the project.

The assessment process allows First Nations, government agencies and the public to influence the outcome of environmental assessments by providing input on the potential for environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects from a proposed project. The certificate conditions are then developed from consultations with these individuals.

The certificate has 24 conditions that need to be meet and design requirements are specified in the certified project description. Each of the conditions and the certified project description are legally-binding requirements that HD Mining must meet to be in compliance with the certificate.

Key conditions for the project require HD Mining to:

  • Hire an independent environmental monitor to determine whether HD Mining is complying with the conditions in the environmental assessment certificate.
  • Develop a plan to address the risk and impacts of subsidence.
  • Develop a suite of management plans for matters that include wildlife, fish and fish habitat, wetlands, air quality, noise, groundwater and surface water and impacts from invasive plants.
  • Develop plans to support healthy communities and identify measures to mitigate economic and social effects.
  • Continue to participate on the Murray River Aquatic Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework Steering Committee.
  • Develop a plan to share information between HD Mining and First Nations and to identify measures to avoid impacts on Treaty 8 rights.

Following comments from First Nations and government agencies during the environmental assessment, HD Mining decided to construct a production decline under the Murray River instead of constructing an overland conveyor. The decline will reduce impacts on wildlife.

The Murray River coal project will need federal environmental assessment approval and various federal and provincial permits to move forward with the project.

The Environmental Assessment Office has indicated it will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met throughout the project’s life.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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