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Raven coal mine still subject to environmental review by feds

The proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine project is still subject to federal scrutiny, unlike nearly 500 other projects in B.C. in the wake of a revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

According to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, projects that were undergoing a comprehensive study when provisions of the act came into effect last month will continue to follow requirements of the former act. Under the former, the CEAA is responsible for conducting a comprehensive study of Compliance Coal Corporation's proposed underground mine in Baynes Sound.

The mine is expected to produce about 30 million tonnes of coal and rock over a 16-year period. The product would be trucked to a facility in Port Alberni. The total mine site surface footprint is expected to be about 200 hectares along with two hectares at the port facility.

A comprehensive study report needs to be provided to the federal government "no later than six months of government time after CEAA 2012 came into force," environmental assessment officer Rob Hajdù said by e-mail.

The proposed mine has been met with widespread opposition at public hearings and during a public comment period.

CoalWatch Comox Valley president John Snyder considers the environmental assessment process to be "pretty flawed from what we've seen.

"All the comments we've submitted thus far on a lot of our key issues like hydrology and the marine studies, it looks like they haven't been (properly) addressed and won't be addressed. We can cross that bridge once we get to the next stage, which is the application stage."

In June, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines/Application Information Requirements (AIR) document was issued to the proponent, which must meet specified requirements when submitting the EIS/Application. Once submitted, a third public comment period will take place.

A fourth public comment period on the agency’s Comprehensive Study Report — which will outline CEAA conclusions regarding potential environmental effects and proposed mitigation measures — will follow.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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