OTTAWA, O.N. – Wednesday the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced the federal Cabinet’s decision to approve the Murray River Mining Project.
The project by HD Mining International Ltd. will mine metallurgical coal, known as coking coal from an area near Tumbler Ridge. The Minister set out 104 legally-binding conditions that the HD Mining must implement in order to operate the mine.
The proponent will be required to consult with directly affected First Nations on the implementation of the conditions. The First Nations will be provided with the support necessary to enable meaningful input. The conditions include measures to address effects of the project on human health, fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, Southern Mountain Caribou and other wildlife, and use of lands and resources by Indigenous peoples. As well, the conditions require the proponent to avoid, mitigate or offset impacts on caribou habitat.
The conditions also include, for the first time, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions associated with a coal mine. The proponent is responsible for limiting methane emissions to 500 000 tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide per year.
In a press release, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change had this to say. “The environmental assessment of this project benefited from thorough scientific and technical expertise and took into account input provided by the public and Indigenous groups. Our government intends to renew and strengthen its commitment to collaboration and partnerships with affected First Nations communities on all aspects of caribou recovery. Long-term investment, habitat protection and restoration, and coordinated federal, provincial and First Nation actions, including the conditions set out in my decision statement, are necessary to strengthen environmental protection and promote caribou recovery in British Columbia.”
HD Mining has faced stiff opposition to a proposal that would see many of the employees for the mine come from China. In 2016, the Globe and Mail published a story saying the project was put on hold until market conditions improved, further test drilling results and environmental approvals. The company denied that report and said the project was still moving ahead.