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Coal mine prepares for regulator

Eric Plummer,  Alberni Valley Times, October 17, 2014

A proposed Comox Valley coal mine is preparing another application to provincial regulators - a development that, if approved, would truck one million tonnes of coal to Port Alberni each year for shipment overseas.

This month, the City of Port Alberni was informed by the province's Environmental Assessment Office that the Raven Underground Coal Mine will be starting a 30-day evaluation in the coming weeks. This is a resubmission to regulators by the coal mine's company Compliance Energy, whose 12,000-page submission was rejected by the EAO last year.

The B.C. regulator cited a lack of consultation with the public and First Nations.

On Friday, the EAO sent an update on Compliance's bid for approval to the application's working group. This group of stakeholders includes the City of Port Alberni, other municipalities, environmental groups and First Nations.

"The application will be evaluated to determine if the deficiencies identified in May 2013 have been adequately addressed," stated Shelley Murphy, the EAO's executive project director, in a letter to the working group. "This evaluation is an important step in the environmental assessment of the proposed project and the EAO is asking working group members to assist with this."

Compliance proposes to produce metallurgical coal used for steelmaking from the Comox Valley mine. The coal would be transported by eight-axle trucks - measuring approximately 40 metres each - along Highway 4 into Port Alberni for shipment to Japan and South Korea.

Compliance expects coal traffic to be three loaded trucks an hour - or more than 70 a day - bringing 70 jobs into the Alberni Valley at the port and in road transportation.

City manager Ken Watson said with the upcoming regulatory review, the municipal government will have the chance to offer support or any concerns related to the development.

"We get a pre-look at the application and then we get a chance to respond if we think that there's things missing," he said.

Watson added that a public input process would follow once Compliance addresses any gaps in the application to provincial regulators.

"They're trying to identify gaps in advance of it going to the public input process," he said. "Once they've identified those gaps, and hopefully addressed them in some satisfactory way, then it would go to the public input process and then the public has their chance to have their say about it in its entirety." 250-723-8171

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