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New B.C. coal mine enters public comment period

Crown Mountain is a proposed metallurgical coal mine near Sparwood
Exploratory drilling at Crown Mountain. | NWP Coal

A new metallurgical coal mine proposed for the Sparwood area will be the subject of open houses and public comment period as part of a joint federal-provincial environmental review over the course of the next month.

NWP Coal Canada Ltd., a joint venture between Australia’s Jameson Resources Ltd. (ASX:JAL) and New Zealand’s Bathurst Resources Ltd. (ASX:BRL), proposes to build the Crown Mountain coking coal mine near Sparwood – the same region where Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B, NYSE:TECK) operates four coking (steelmaking) coal mines. It would be located between Teck's Line Creek and Elkview mines.

The Crown Mountain coal project is subject to a coordinated review under the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and federal Impact Assessment Agency, and will be the subject of a public comment period, from Jan. 29 and Feb. 28.

The Crown Mountain coal project would employ about 500 workers during construction, according to a project description, and 330 workers ongoing once the mine went into production. The deposit would be mined in three open pits.

Should the mine be approved and built, that would bring the number of operating steelmaking coal mines in B.C. to eight. (Teck operates four and Conuma Coal operates three.)

One of the problems that other mines in the region has had is selenium pollution, which comes from coal tailings. NWP proposes to reduce the potential for selenium pollution by using a drystack tailings approach, rather than a “wet” tailings pond.

crown mountain

“It could be a real game-changer,” Dave Baines, manager of environment and engagement for NWP, said at the Coal Association of Canada conference in Vancouver in 2022. “If we just don’t let any selenium into the environment, then I don’t have to collect it, I don’t have to manage it. We don’t believe it’s going to need any treatment.”

As part of the public comment period, open houses will be held in Cranbrook on Feb. 13, from noon till 3 p.m. at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort (209 Van Horne Street), and in Sparwood Feb. 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Causeway Bay Hotel (102 Red Cedar Drive).

Those who can’t attend can also tune into a streamed presentation from 5 to 7 p.m. February 21.

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