Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, announced Oct. 9 the referral of the proposed Robb Trend Coal Mine Expansion project in Alberta to an environmental assessment by an independent review panel.
The decision to refer the project to a review panel was made after considering its potential for significant adverse environmental effects and a recommendation by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, that the environmental assessment be referred to a review panel.
Aglukkaq has set timelines for the environmental assessment of the project as follows:
- The timeline for the review panel to be established (pre-panel phase) is 150 days (5 months) from the date of referral of the project.
- The timeline for the review panel to submit its report (panel phase) is 430 days (14 months) from the date of establishment of the review panel.
- The timeline for the federal Minister’s decision statement (post-panel phase) is 150 days (5 months) from the date of submission of the review panel’s report.
The above timelines do not include the time project backer Westmoreland Coal takes to gather information required for the environmental assessment. The federal government is currently in discussions with the Alberta Energy Regulator to identify opportunities for coordinating provincial and federal environmental assessment requirements.
Westmoreland Coal is proposing to expand its Coal Valley Mine in the Coal Branch area of Alberta. This is one of several mines that Westmoreland bought a few months ago from Sherritt, making this Colorado-based company Canada’s largest thermal coal producer.