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Comox Valley chapter protests Raven coal mine

Raven Coal Mine

The Comox Valley Record reports, “Compliance Coal Corporation has faced stiff opposition from aquaculture, First Nations and citizen interests groups for its proposed Raven Coal Mine project, which is an underground extraction operation designed to take the fossil fuel from near Fanny Bay and send it across the Pacific Ocean. Over the weekend the Council of Canadians held a rally that attracted more than 100 people to downtown Courtenay with signs in protest of fossil fuel projects, including the Raven Coal Mine plan.”

Alice de Wolff, a Comox Valley Council of Canadians coal campaigner, says, “Right now the price of coal is down which we think has seriously affected Compliance Coal’s plans around the Raven Underground Coal Mine. If they find that there’s coal closer to the surface they may go ahead with proposals for strip mining. (And given the province’s recent proposal to increase the capacity to store coal on Texada Island), there’s some longer term thinking going on here that’s looking at us as a coal resource area. It’s not just the one site, but a whole bunch of them.”

On May 5, the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas issued another coal license to Compliance for a 1448 hectare area of land including the Tsolum River watershed. Compliance maintains that this is an old application, that they own lots of coal licenses, that they would still need to seek a permit for exploration, and that they are still focused on the Raven Coal mine. On March 24, the ministry also issued coal permits to Hillsborough Resources Ltd. for land within the Woodhouse Creek/Oyster River area.

The newspaper notes, “(Compliance president and Chief Operating Officer Steve) Ellis is optimistic the company will be able to resubmit their environmental assessment later this year, though planners had originally expected the comprehensive document as early as last December. …Alana Mullaly, manager of planning services for the Comox Valley Regional District, … said the Raven Coal Mine falls under the old federal Environmental Assessment Act, but worries how much review newly acquired parcels would face, due to what environmental groups have characterized as a weakening of protection.”

The Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter has been actively raising concerns about the proposed Raven coal mine since 2010. In September 2011, Maude Barlow spoke at a large public forum in Courtenay in opposition to this mine. In November 2012, the Council of Canadians formally expressed its opposition to the Raven coal mine at our annual general meeting in Nanaimo.

Compliance Coal Corporation’s proposed Raven underground coal mine would be approximately 3,100 hectares in size with a surface footprint of 200 hectares. It has prompted concerns about water safety because it would be located about five kilometres from Baynes Sound in the Cowie Creek and Tsable River drainages. The sound is the narrow western off-shoot of the Strait of Georgia that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland of British Columbia. The mine would produce 650,000 to 1.1 million tonnes of highly volatile bituminous coal. The life of the mine is estimated to be about 16 or 17 years.