Sukunka Coal Mine Project and Carbon Creek Metallurgical Coal Mine Project approved for substitution

Trent Ernst, Editor

Peter Kent, the federal Minister of the Environment, has approved British Columbia (B.C.)’s requests for substitution for the environmental assessments of the proposed Sukunka Coal Mine Project and Carbon Creek Metallurgical Coal Mine Project.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received requests for substitution from BC for the environmental assessments of the proposed Sukunka Coal Mine Project and Carbon Creek Metallurgical Coal Mine Project on March 6. The Agency held a public comment period regarding these requests from March 15, 2013 to April 4, 2013.

“I am satisfied that the conditions for substitution under CEAA 2012 will be met for these two projects and that the B.C. process is an appropriate substitute for these environmental assessments,” said Minister Kent. “At the conclusion of these substituted environmental assessment processes, I will make an environmental assessment decision. Projects will only be allowed to proceed if they meet Canada’s rigorous environmental protection laws.”

Having taken into consideration the request for substitution from BC and its approach to undertaking the substituted environmental assessment as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the BC Environmental Assessment Office on the Substitution of Environmental Assessments (2013), the Minister is satisfied that conditions identified below will be met and that the B.C. environmental assessment process is an appropriate substitute. The Minister therefore approves the substitution request given that BC has committed to meeting the following conditions:

The designated project to be assessed is the construction, operation and decommissioning of a combined open pit and underground coal mine and any incidental physical activities; the substituted process will include a consideration of the factors set out in subsection 19(1) of CEAA 2012; · B.C. will ensure that any Orders under sections 11, 13 and 14 or 15 of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Act require the subsection 19(1) factors; the public will be given an opportunity to participate in the environmental assessment; the public will have access to records in relation to the environmental assessment to enable their meaningful participation; · at the end of the environmental assessment, a report will be submitted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency that includes the findings and conclusions of the environmental assessment with respect to the factors as set out in subsection 19(1) of CEAA 2012; and the report will be made available to the public. Xstrata Coal Canada proposes to develop and operate the Sukunka Coal Mine Project, an integrated surface and underground metallurgical coal mine. The proposed project would initially produce 1.5 to 2.5 million tonnes per year increasing to 6 million tonnes per year when underground mining begins. The mine life is expected to exceed 20 years.

Cardero Coal Ltd proposes to develop and operate the Carbon Creek Metallurgical Coal Mine Project, an open pit metallurgical coal mine located approximately 60 kilometres northwest of Chetwynd and 40 kilometres west of Hudson’s Hope. The proposed project would involve open pit surface mining followed by combined open pit and underground mining. The production rate would be 4.1 million metric tonnes of metallurgical coal per year, over a mine life of 20 years.

The Agency and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office have finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enable efficient and timely use of CEAA 2012 substitution provisions. The MOU addresses the processes leading to substitution, the conduct of the substituted environmental assessment and associated Aboriginal consultation and the coordination of decision-making, monitoring and follow-up after the environmental assessment.

The Minister has also established the following additional conditions for this project: BC involving expert federal authorities in the B.C. process; BC providing the environmental assessment report to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency within a time frame that will enable the Minister to make decisions under subsection 52(1) of CEAA 2012 within the time limits set out in CEAA 2012; BC conducting procedural aspects of Aboriginal consultation and making available to Aboriginal groups funding provided by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.