Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grassy Mountain coal mining project update

Riversdale Resources photo of Grassy Mountain
Toni Lucas - Riversdale Resources Community Liaison Keith Bott made a presentation to Pincher Creek Town council  during council's regular meeting on Monday evening, September 26.  He was there to inform council about the progress of the Grassy Mountain Coal Project.

"Benga Mining Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Riversdale Resources Limited, is proposing to construct and operate an open-pit metallurgical coal mine near the Crowsnest Pass, approximately seven kilometres north of the community of Blairmore, in south-west Alberta. As proposed, the production capacity of the project would be a maximum of four million tonnes of clean coal per year, over a mine-life of about 25 years." - Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
According to Bott, environmental studies for the Grassy Mountain Project on the fisheries field programs are continuing into the fall, and ambient air quality monitoring continues, with results to be completed before the end of the year.  Bott said those results would be included in an environmental impact assessment (EIA) update prior to a public hearing, which will likely be held in early 2017.

Bott said he had a conversation with Riversdale Resources Limited Managing Director Steve Mallyon in Australia on September 14, at which time he was told contracts had been settled and that coking coal was selling for close to $200/tonne on that date.  Bott said, "Grassy (coal) will sell for just under this level. There is a growing interest in Japan, Korea, and Brazil in the Grassy Mountain development."  He said since January 2016 coking, or metallurgical coal prices have increased by approximately 150%.

Riversdale Resources filed environmental impact assessment (EIA) update regarding the Grassy Mountain Coal Project with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) August 12, 2016 to address deficiencies the AER had identified.  In it Riversdale explained they have developed an "integrated application" that included the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), Coal Conservation Act (CCA), Water Act, and the Public Lands Act (PLA). These applications will be open for further statements of concern in October.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency graphic

Bott said he expected there will be open houses by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) in  October or November 2016.  He expects there to be a hearing panel held in November which will be open for statements of concern.  The first set of Supplementary Information Requests (SIR) are planned for the end of this year.

Crowsnest Pass Golf Course redevelopment (Riversdale Resources photo)
Because the footprint of the operation will impinge upon the Crowsnest Pass Golf Course (CPGC), the  Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has asked Riversdale to provide an assessment of the potential environmental effects of the project to CPGC.   The company plans to assist reshaping the golfcourse, affecting 9 holes.  The course when finished will remain an 18 hole course.  Clearing of the range has begun, with the reshaped golf course expected to be completed late next golf season, depending on weather.  Bott said "It's a little bit of a risk to the company, because they don't have approval on the mine yet, and yet they're still going ahead with the golf course."

In terms of public input, Bott said "A statement of concern is not necessarily an opposition. Everybody should have a concern, whether environment, or economics, or whatever it happens to be. You can submit a statement of concern and still be in support of the project... we all have concerns." He said the company plans to make air quality information readily available. "The plan is to make it available constantly to the public."

Related 2015 story:
Grassy Mountain coal mining project presented to Pincher Creek's councils

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