Environment Minister Mary Polak, along with Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Teck Coal Limited (Teck) for the Baldy Ridge Extension project, located approximately 2.5 kilometres east of the District of Sparwood in southeast British Columbia.
The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office. A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision at: http://ow.ly/MjCg304m7OQ
The Environmental Assessment Office concluded that the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur, with the exception of visual aesthetics. Although the project would gradually change the local view-scape, the environmental assessment certificate includes a condition for a view-scape management plan requiring long-term monitoring and mitigation of effects.
There are 25 conditions in total that are attached to the environmental assessment certificate. Design requirements are specified in a certified project description. Each of the conditions and the certified project description are legally-binding requirements that Teck must meet to be in compliance with the environmental assessment certificate.
The certificate conditions were developed following consultation and input from Aboriginal groups, government agencies, local governments, communities and the public. Other key conditions for the project require Teck to:
- Develop a plan to monitor water quality related to and potential replacement of District of Sparwood domestic water well No. 3;
- Develop management plans to monitor and mitigate effects on wildlife, fish and fish habitat, air quality, noise, visual quality and vibration;
- Retain an independent environmental monitor to audit whether Teck is complying with the environmental assessment certificate conditions to avoid or reduce adverse effects from the project on environmental, health, economic, social and heritage values;
- Develop a plan to achieve long-term selenium concentration limits in Harmer Creek;
- Consult with the District of Sparwood to develop a plan to manage and monitor socio-community and economic effects from the project; and
- Consult with the Ktunaxa Nation on the implementation of mitigation measures to protect Ktunaxa cultural, heritage, ecological and economic values associated with the project.
The Baldy Ridge Extension project will require various federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed.
The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that the certificate conditions are met throughout the life of the project.
The Baldy Ridge Extension project is an extension of the currently operating Elkview Operations open pit coal mine located on Teck’s privately-owned land. The project will mine approximately 153 million metric tonnes of clean coal and will extend the overall life of the Elkview operations open pit coal mine by about 23 years, until 2045. As an extension of existing operations, the project will use existing facilities, including haul roads, overland conveyor, hopper and breaker station, main power supply line, gas line, main mine access roads, coal processing facilities, Canadian Pacific Railway line and load-out loop, explosives storage and surface water management infrastructure.
British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office is a neutrally-administered office that is required by law to undertake rigorous, thorough reviews of major projects in British Columbia. These reviews provide significant opportunities for Aboriginal groups, government agencies and the public to influence the outcome of environmental assessments by providing input on the potential for environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects from a proposed project.