Sukunka Coal Project – Public Comments Invited

Lynsey Kitching
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the proposed Sukunka Coal Project in BC. To assist in making its decision, the Agency is seeking comments from the public on the project and its potential effects on the environment.
Xstrata Coal Canada is proposing the construction, operation, and decommissioning of an open pit and underground coal mine located about 55 km south of Chetwynd and 40 km west of Tumbler Ridge. The proposed project would eventually produce six million tonnes of washed coal per year over a mine life of more than 20 years.
Ben Coleman, Technical Services Manager for Xstrata said at the recent coal forum, “We purchased Sukunka from Talisman Energy Inc.,” he continued, “There has been previous mining activity there with some test pits back in the 70s and 80s.The project contains open—cut and underground reserves and had been fairly well drilled at the time, with an underground mining operation. They extracted about 100,000 tonnes. We are proposing about 17 holes in that area and are staying out of the caribou habitat.”
On the topic of caribou protection, Coleman expressed some concern about how governments are going to handle the endangerment of the caribou in relation to potential mining projects. He said, “I think for us, that’s been a strain, given there’s uncertainty about how the provincial and the federal [governments] are going to approach the caribou issues.”
The extracted coal would be transported by rail to the port in Prince Rupert for shipment to overseas markets. Written comments about the project must be submitted by February 11, 2013.

To view a summary of the project description or for more information on the project and on the environmental assessment process, visit the Agency’s website at registry reference number 80013. All comments received will be considered public.The Agency will post a decision stating whether a federal environmental assessment is required on its website. If it is determined that one is required, the public will have three more opportunities to comment.