Fording mine expansion moves forward

Government ministers sign off on Environmental Assessment Certificate for Swift project at Fording Mine Operations.

The provincial government has approved an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) to Teck Coal for a proposed expansion at the Fording River operations.

The Swift project, an expansion roughly 20 kilometres north of Elkford, is estimated to produce 170 million tonnes of coal over the next 25 years.

The EAC carries 19 conditions, which were developed following consultation with the Ktunaxa Nation Council, government agencies, communities and the public.

Key conditions of the EAC include:

• Hire an independent environmental monitor to audit whether Teck is complying with the conditions in the environmental assessment certificate;

• Construct and operate water treatment plants at Fording River Operations in accordance with the timeframe and specifications set out in the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan;

• Develop management plans to monitor and mitigate effects on wildlife, fish and fish habitat, air quality and noise, public access, and water, as well as effects from invasive plants;

• Develop and implement a plan that will address the recommendations of the Westslope Cutthroat Trout population study in the upper Fording River (when that study is completed early in 2016);

• Establish an advisory group to provide scientific, technical and Aboriginal advice on strategies to evaluate and reduce impacts on biodiversity from this and other projects operated by Teck in the Elk Valley; and

• Collaborate with the Ktunaxa Nation to ensure protection of Ktunaxa’s cultural and heritage values, obtain input regarding ecological values, and support Ktunaxa’s participation in economic opportunities associated with the project.

“Receipt of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Certificate is a significant milestone for Fording River Swift, the next phase of mining for our Fording River Operations,” said Ian Kilgour, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “I want to commend all those who have worked hard to reach this goal and helped secure a strong future for Fording River.”

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, the Minister of Energy and Mines, along with Mary Polak, the Minister of Environment, jointly approved the EAC for Teck Coal after the Environmental Assessment Office reviewed the company’s application.

The Swift project will require various federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed. The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met throughout the life of the project.

The Swift expansion will utilize existing infrastructure at Fording River Operations, however, initial construction costs are estimated at $88.5 million with an operating cost of roughly $16.9 billion.

Teck expects to maintain roughly 1000-full time- equivalent employees at the existing Fording River Operations with 300-500 full-time jobs during construction.