The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said April 15 that it must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for the proposed Murray River Coal Project located in northeastern British Columbia.
To assist it in making its decision, the federal agency is now seeking comments from the public on the project and its potential effects on the environment.
HD Mining International Ltd. proposes the construction, operation and decommissioning of an underground coal mine and supporting infrastructure, including a 5.8 kilometer rail load-out. The project is located 12.5 kilometers southwest of Tumbler Ridge, B.C. The proposed project would produce 6 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per annum for an estimated mine life of 31 years.
Written comments on the federal agency decision must be submitted by May 6. The agency will post on its website a decision stating whether a federal environmental assessment is required. If it is decided that a federal environmental assessment is required, the public will have three more opportunities to comment on this project.
HD Mining has a head office located in Vancouver, B.C. The company has two main partners: Huiyong Holdings (BC) Ltd. (55%) and Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc. (40%). HD Mining is the company that has kicked up a fuss in recent months in Canada due to its plan to import mine workers from China to work at the Murray River operation. The company recently told restive labor unions that it is willing to negotiate mine staffing issues.
As part of exploration of the property, HD Mining has received approvals from the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas to mine a 100,000-tonne bulk sample to test the coal for use as a coking coal and to perform coal washability testing. HD Mining is preparing the site to mine the bulk sample in the fall of 2013, said a project description filed in March with regulators. Permitted infrastructure associated with the bulk sample is divided between two areas: a shaft area and a decline area.
The project is an underground metallurgical coal mine. Coal will be produced using mainly longwall mining, a form of underground mining where coal is mined in large panels (typically 1 to 3 kilometers long and 200 to 400 meters wide). Over an estimated 31-year mine life, the mine will produce approximately 185 million tonnes of metallurgical coal at a rate of up to 6 million tons per year (16,438 tonnes per day).