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Raven Coal mine proponent pulls application at the last minute

Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver, March 3 2015

A Vancouver junior coal mining company that wants to build an underground coal mine in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island has withdrawn at the last minute from an environmental screening, just as the Environmental Assessment Office was set to make a ruling.

While the company claims it is withdrawing because of “misinformation” circulating about the project, low coal prices – matched by the company’s low stock value –suggest the company could be having trouble financing the project.

The EAO was set to rule yesterday on whether the Raven Coal mine proposal met the conditions to proceed to a full review and public hearing.

The Vancouver Island Chapter of the Wilderness Committee, which has vigorously opposed the project, was taken by surprise when the company pre-empted that decision by withdrawing its application.

“The letter that they submitted and their withdrawal really took us by surprise,” said Wilderness Committee campaigner Torrance Coste.

The original application was made in 2013. But the EAO ruled the company had failed to meet the requirements of the screening, and the company had to file a second application.

“There were hundreds of points of information missing,” Coste said.

A spokesperson for Compliance Energy Corp. (TSX-V:CEC) could not be reached to explain why the application was withdrawn at the last minute.

However, in a letter from the company to the EAO, the company complained about “misinformation” being spread about the project.

“We received some misinformation that is circulating in some communities regarding the Raven Coal Project and believe it is appropriate that we withdraw the project from the screening process at this time,” Stephen Ellis, the company’s president and COO, wrote in a letter to the EAO.

Ellis added he thinks the coal mine will be developed and said the company had already spent $20 million on the environmental evaluation of the project.

The Raven coal mine would produce both thermal and metallurgical coal, which have both suffered from a global glut and drastic price drop. Several operating met coal mines have been shut down, as a result of a drastic drop in coal prices.

Compliance Coal’s stock mirrors those price drops. In May 2013, Compliance Energy’s stock fell below $0.05 per share – the point that typically would trigger a delisting review – and has since fallen to $0.02 per share.

The Venture exchange has temporarily relaxed some of its rules on delisting. Several hundred junior miners listed on the TSX Venture exchange are not meeting listing requirements.

nbennett@biv.com

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