The proponents of the Raven underground coal mine proposal in Baynes Sound have applied to the Province for another coal licence in the Comox Valley, while a second company is hoping to stake a claim in the Woodhus Creek/Oyster River area.
The Comox Valley Regional District committee of the whole approved Tuesday letters to the chief inspector of mines to inform terms and conditions of requested coal licences submitted by Compliance Coal Corporation and Hillsborough Resources Ltd.
The Raven project is in the pre-application stage of an environmental assessment. Compliance — which also holds a 60-per-cent interest in the Bear Coal Deposit south of Comox Lake — is trying to obtain a licence to explore about 1,672 hectares of undersurface coal resources above Forbidden Plateau within the Browns River watershed north of Comox Lake.
Hillsborough is looking to explore nearly 3,000 hectares, mostly in the Strathcona Regional District.
“We have concerns in this Valley. We’ve walked down this road,” Area A director Bruce Jolliffe said Tuesday in reference to the Raven project and the Bear deposit.
Cumberland director Gwyn Sproule likened coal to a “new gold rush,” echoing Jolliffe’s concern.
Area B director Jim Gillis questioned if the Compliance application will follow the same process as the Raven proposal.
“Can you mine coal up there without impacting water quality?” said Gillis, mindful of ensuring against short-term gain at the expense of long-term pain. “I think we have to be vigilant.”
District staff note a new assessment regime at the federal level.
If issued a coal licence, the companies cannot carry out surface-disturbing activities. They first require approval from the mine inspector before commencing work on their licence.