The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office on Dec. 14 approved the transfer of Environmental Assessment (EA) certificates for four coal mines in northeast British Columbia from a bankrupt Walter Energy affiliate to Conuma Coal Resources Ltd.
Subsidiaries and affiliated entities of Walter Energy Canada Holdings Inc. had held the certificates for: the Brule Mine Project, Hermann Mine Project, Willow Creek Coal Mine and Wolverine Coal Project. In December 2015, Walter Energy Canada applied for and was granted bankruptcy protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court. On Aug. 16, 2016, the Supreme Court approved an Asset Purchase Agreement between Walter Energy Canada (and its subsidiary and affiliated entities) and Conuma Coal Resources. The sale closed on Sept. 9, 2016.
All of these mines are located within the geographic boundary of Treaty 8. The Brule, Wolverine, and Willow Creek Mines were constructed and operating before transitioning to care and maintenance status in 2014. Brule Mine and the Willow Creek load-out restarted operations on Sept. 21, 2016, with Conuma operating the two mines under contract to Walter Energy Canada, the certificate holder. The Hermann Mine is not constructed and permits have not been applied for. Conuma has advised EAO that if the permits and EA certificates are transferred, it intends to re-start Wolverine Mine in early 2017 and Willow Creek Mine in mid-2017.
EAO met with Conuma on Dec. 2, 2016, to discuss the certificate conditions for all four mines and to identify next steps to ensure compliance with the conditions. Initial steps will include Conuma submitting a Brule Mine self-report by Jan. 16, 2017, followed by Wolverine, Hermann and Willow Creek Mine self-reports. A compliance plan for all four mines will be developed following EAO’s review of the self-reports.