Conditional environmental approval for Tumbler Ridge coal mine expansion

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Peace River Coal Inc. has been issued a conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate, after Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy, Mines and Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman considered the Environmental Assessment Office's review. They also factored in government of B.C.'s Peace Northern Caribou Plan, and found that the proposed project would not have any adverse effects, other than on the Babcock-Quintette herd.

The herd is currently stable or increasing in population, and the proposed mine is projected to result in a loss of their core habitat by 3.5 per cent in the winter and 2.7 per cent in the summer. Peace River Coal is mandated by the certificate to fund $2.6 million in caribou management strategies, and to replace 1,852 hectares of high altitude habitat. Overall, the Ministers determined that the Peace Northern Caribou Plan will have an overall positive effect on caribou, and that the construction and operation of the proposed mine would have "very significant" positive economic benefits.
The expansion is expected to have a production capacity of between two and four million tonnes of coal per year for its 10-year lifespan. It would employ 470 people full time over those 10 years.
In order for construction to be authorized, the proposed mine still needs a number of permits. Further First Nations and government consultation will take place.
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