Canadian agency issues enviro review on Murray River coal mine project

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is taking comment until May 13 on a federal environmental assessment of the proposed Murray River Coal Project in British Columbia.

This project has undergone several public and Indigenous consultation opportunities. This is the final public comment period in the process. Following this comment period, the Environmental Assessment Report and recommended environmental assessment conditions will be finalized and provided to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Minister will then consider all of the information, including input from Indigenous groups and the public, and make a determination as to whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

HD Mining International Ltd. proposes to construct, operate, and decommission an underground metallurgical coal mine located 12.5 kilometers south of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. The Murray River Coal Project would include an underground mine equipped with a longwall and associated works; waste rock storage facilities; coal rejects storage area; water management structures; coal handling and preparation facilities; rail load-out; sewage treatment and disposal facilities; and an electricity transmission line and a natural gas pipeline, each connecting to existing infrastructure.

The project would have a production rate of 6 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year over a 31-year mine life. The coal would be mined using longwall mining, where coal is mined in large panels, typically 1 to 3 kilometers long and 200 to 400 meters wide. The proposed underground mining activity is estimated to correspond to an aboveground footprint of 37 square kilometers. The project is predicted to cost C$300 million.

The project was also subject to an EA under British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act and an environmental assessment certificate was issued by the province in October 2015. The federal agency and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office coordinated their respective activities to align Aboriginal and public consultation and avoid duplication of effort.

The rail loadout would support mine production of 4.8 million tonnes per year of saleable coal. The facility includes track that runs parallel to the existing Canadian National Railway track and the loadout.

HD Mining has engaged B.C. Hydro to develop a tie-in to an existing 230-kV power line that runs near the site.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.