Compliance lets another deadline pass for coal mine application

Proposal for mine 50 km from Qualicum Beach still not in the hands of provincial environmental assessment office

Compliance Energy didn’t get any coal for Christmas.

Stephen Ellis, Compliance’s CEO, said the company will not make its latest self-imposed deadline of Dec. 31 to get an application submitted to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to open a controversial coal mine less than 50 kilometres from downtown Qualicum Beach.

Asked when people can expect an application to be submitted, Ellis told The NEWS “early next year.”

In May of 2013, the EAO rejected the company’s application for the proposed Raven Coal mine saying “the application does not contain the required information and (the EAO) has decided not to accept the application for detailed review.” Since the rejection Compliance officials periodically vow to re-submit another application, however, the company has repeatedly missed all of their self-imposed deadlines — including the most recent one. Once an application is submitted, the EAO will evaluate it within 30 days to determine whether or not it meets the criteria set out in the application information requirements.

If the EAO determines that the application meets the requirements, it will be accepted for review. The 180-day review will be initiated and a public comment period on the application will be scheduled.

On its website (www.theravenproject.ca), Compliance says it expects to hire up to 200 workers during construction and create up to 350 full-time jobs. The underground operation would be centred about five kilometres west of the Buckley Bay ferry terminal and the coal would be stored and shipped out of Port Alberni.

Compliance has said three trucks an hour, 24 hours a day, will carry the coal from the mine to Port Alberni.

John Snyder, president of Coal Watch, a group dedicated to researching issues regarding the proposed Raven Coal mine, says he’s not sure Compliance will be able to “pull the rabbit out of the hat.”

Snyder said “I can’t remember all the deadlines they (Compliance) have set for themselves and failed to meet.”

Snyder lives close to the proposed site of the coal mine and worries about its impact on the surrounding communities.

“When I look at what they (Compliance) are proposing to do to our community, to design and operate a coal mine five kilometres from my home and Baynes Sound I just don’t have a lot of confidence they will be able to design it without a negative impact,” he said.

Snyder said there are significant environmental and social concerns about the project.

“It’s frustrating, it’s like having a black cloud hanging over our community,” he said of Compliance’s business ambitions. “We just had our fifth anniversary in November of when we (Coal Watch) started up and focussed on this singular issue.”

Snyder admits he “doesn’t know what’s going on behind closed doors,” but said if Compliance submits another application Coal Watch will be ready to review their proposal and submit comments.