In turn, Anglo American plc Mining Group, of which Peace River Coal is a subsidiary, secured just over 2,000 acres of core caribou habitat for protection, along with its donation, which is more than the 1,852 acres originally expected. Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business Seamus French says the donation shows the company’s dedication to caribou mitigation measures.
“We understand and respect the caribou’s importance to First Nations and local communities, and we are proud to play a key role in this environmental management project through our unprecedented securement of 2,009 hectares of caribou habitat and a financial contribution of $2.566 million,” he says.
The provincial government announced in November 2012 that 90 per cent of the high-elevation winter habitat for caribou in the area would be protected through the Peace Northern Caribou Plan. The Peace Region in particular is seeing its caribou numbers getting small, with both the herds near MoberlyLake and Tumbler Ridge declining, and the Burnt Pine herd down to one last female. As of last winter, there were an estimated 1,100 Northern Caribou in the South Peace, which are expected to decrease to 800 over the next 21 years.
The hope is that increasing protection of approximately 400,000 hectares of their habitat will increase their population in the South Peace to 1,200 within three caribou generations. The protection measures are set to be put in place by spring 2015 at the latest in the Graham, Moberly, Burnt Pine, Kennedy Sinding, Scott, Narraway and Quintette herd ranges.
Under the plan, the government will also be able to let some resource development opportunities like mining to go ahead in certain areas of high-elevation winter habitat. Full production of the Roman Mine is expected to start in 2014, after construction began in August 2013, 30 kilometres south of Tumbler Ridge.