Coal licence applications and existing coal tenures in the Valley comprise about a third of the regional district’s total land area, according to research conducted by CoalWatch Comox Valley.
The proposed Raven Coal Mine covers 3,100 hectares, though the proponent — Compliance Coal Corporation — owns 32,494 hectares in total.
Applications from Skyland Resources total 11,550 hectares, Golden River Resources 11,325 hectares and Hillsborough Resources 2,546 hectares. These applications and tenures stretch from the Oyster River area to Cook Creek south of Fanny Bay, totalling 57,915 hectares or 579 square kilometres. The total land area in the CVRD is 1,725 square kilometres.
“While CoalWatch isn’t implying exploration and future coal mine development will extend to all of these areas of interest, we believe these areas of interest should be viewed within the context of the current debate on Raven Coal Mine proposal,” CoalWatch president John Snyder said in a news release. “I certainly think it’s fair to ask what the effect would be if the Raven project was approved, and would it be the first step on the slippery slope to further exploration and coal development in the other parts of the Comox Valley. I was stunned when I calculated the total area of coal interest in the Comox Valley. With predictions of the iconic Comox Glacier disappearing due to climate change within the next two decades, how ironic is it to see the increased interest in coal development in the Comox Valley?”
Compliance re-submitted its mine application this month. In 2013, the provincial Environmental Assessment Office rejected its initial application. If the EAO gives approval, a 180-day review will be initiated, which includes a public comment period.
Along with the Raven property in Baynes Sound, Compliance owns land near Anderson Lake above Forbidden Plateau. It also holds a 60 per cent interest in the Bear Coal Deposit south of Comox Lake. However, Chief Operations Officer Stephen Ellis has said the company has no intention of exploring either deposit, even if government approves the Raven project.
“For us, once they get their foot in the door, what other properties are going to become more attractive?” Snyder said, noting a lack of public transparency when it comes to the issuance of a coal licence or notice of work permit.
“To be honest, most people in the Valley aren’t paying a lot of attention to this. But what they do pay attention to is when one day they notice there’s a drill rig on the hill next to them doing a core sample. There’s no transparency.”
Ellis could not be reached for comment.
A coal tenure map and coal interest worksheet are available on the CoalWatch website at www.coalwatch.ca.