Echo Hill Coal Mine Project – Public Comments Invited

Trent Ernst, Editor
 
As part of changes to the Environmental Act, the Canadian Government must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the proposed Echo Hill Coal Mine Project. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is seeking comments from the public on the project and its potential effects on the environment.
 
The Echo Hill Mine would be 44 km north of Tumbler Ridge along Highway 52, then a short distance along the Moore Forest Service Road. The Echo Hill Mine proposal is built on the bones of the former AES Wapiti coal fired power plant proposal, which was kyboshed in 2007 when the BC government announced that any coal fired power in the province would have to have 100 percent carbon sequestration. The area was initially staked and drilled by Gulf Canada Resources. They let the claims lapse and the property was re-staked by Hillsborough. 
The proposal has been reworked by one of the two partners in that deal, Hillsborough Resources. This go around, the proposed mine would ship the proposed one to one and a half million tonnes of thermal coal it produced annually overseas. 
 
As part of the project, Hillborough expects that it will need to build: an office, mine dry and maintenance facilities: associated facilities and infrastructure needed for the life of the project are expected to include a maintenance shop, warehouse and administration complex, generator, fuel storage, and storage and laydown areas.  These facilities will be supported by related water and power infrastructure. While access to the site will be by Highway 52, access to the mine working areas will be by temporary haul roads. A coal handling and storage site will be built and coal will be stockpiled, crushed and screened onsite. 
 
Probably the most controversial part of the proposal is the requirement that coal be hauled along existing roads to either the former Bullmoose Loadout or the Peace River Coal loadout. 
Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2015, with production beginning shortly thereafter. 
 
Under the Canadian Environmental Act of 2012, all coal mines with a coal production capacity of 3,000 tonnes per day or more are subject to CEAA review. The proposed project will produce between 2,700 and 4,000 tonnes per day. 
 
If it is determined that a federal environmental assessment is required, the public will have three more opportunities to comment on this project, consistent with the transparency and public engagement elements of CEAA 2012. 
 
The mine has an expected lifespan of between ten and 14 years.  

 

Written comments must be submitted by February 28, 2013 to: 
 
Echo Hill Coal Mine Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
410-701 Georgia Street West
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6
Tel.: 604-666-2431
Fax: 604-666-6990
EchoHill@ceaa-acee.gc.ca