Vancouver based HD Mining says it plans to begin construction of the Murray River Coal project in the South Peace, once it receives the necessary permits and approvals with operations to begin three years after the start of construction.
The project is the first underground coal mine approved in this province in over a quarter of a century, with the latest estimated capital cost at $668 million.
The Province issued an environment assessment certificate to HD Mining International last week, albeit with 24 conditions, developed following consultation and input from First Nations, government agencies, impacted communities and the general public.
They include the hiring of an independent environmental monitor to determine if the company is complying with the conditions, and developing a plan to share company information and identify measures to avoid impact on Treaty 8 rights.
The mine, with a 25 year operating life will annually produce up to 4.8 million tonnes of high quality, steelmaking, clean coal, and it’s now estimated it will create 780 jobs during operations.
It will be located about 12 kilometers south of Tumbler Ridge, and is the first proposed long-wall coal mine in British Columbia.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett claims it is proof government’s policies are working to attract global investment in BC’s mining sector, and South Peace MLA Mike Bernier says, “Those of us living in this area know Tumbler Ridge sits on some of the best metallurgical coal in the world, and this project has the potential to once again make this community one of the busiest mining towns in the province”.
Longwall mining has a history dating back to the 17th century in England, but the technology has changed considerably, and in this case, H-D Mining, after winning federal government approval to hire foreign workers, needed a 2013 federal court ruling, to push back an organized labor challenge of the decision.
However the company then confirmed it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern Lights College to develop a training curriculum to help to transition long wall mining skills and jobs to Canadian workers.