The Raven Underground Coal project will not go to a joint federal-provincial review panel, the federal and provincial government said.
The development was contained in the synopsis of comments received during the public comment period on the project, which was released by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the BC Environmental Assessment Office.
The public comment period was held between May 18 and June 27, and the results synopsis was released on Oct. 13.
The agency received comments from the public requesting that the project be referred to an independent federal-provincial review panel.
The agency can recommend that the project go to a panel if it poses significant adverse environmental effects after mitigation measures, but that’s not the case, the document says.
“The agency and other federal departments are not able to identify any residual significant adverse environmental effects that may result from the proposed project,” the document noted.
“As a result, the agency is confident that the cooperative comprehensive study will be able to identify, analyze, and address the potential environmental effects of the proposed project.”
While the overall mine project won’t be going to a review panel, the issue of green house gasses associated with transporting the coal will be studied.
According to the document, an environmental assessment will examine green house gas emissions associated with transporting coal by truck into Port Alberni and by ship to the Cape Beale Pilotage Station.
Countries are responsible for emissions that occur within their boundaries, therefore the assessment “…will not consider overseas GHG emissions as a result of combustion of the coal,” the document noted.
The development is a good step but there are still several more that need to be taken, Raven president and CEO John Tapics said. “The big challenge is going to be responding to the volume of comments,” he said. “We want to ensure all community input is considered.”
The development is a disappointment but not a surprise, CoalWatch director Maggie Paquet said.
“It’s business as usual for the government, nothing the public has done has changed their minds,” Paquet said. “The feds and the province are under the spell of the mining lobby.”
Other factors, like fish and birds in the area of the mine or dredging in the Alberni harbour may yet trigger a review, as could stronger First Nations opposition, Paquet said. “It (synopsis) definitely isn’t the last word.”
There were 3,000 public submissions received in total, although many individuals made more than one submission.
Concerns most frequently raised included highway congestion and accidents, coal dust from the mine, effects of coal washing, impact on Baynes Sound and incomplete aquifer mapping.
The company will be given time to respond to the public comments. The public in turn will have a chance to comment on those responses.