For the time being, Compliance Coal Corporation has withdrawn its Raven Coal Mine application from a provincial screening process while it attempts to clear up some misconceptions about the project.
But the company still plans to forge ahead with its contentious proposal near Baynes Sound.
“We decided that it would be appropriate to withdraw at this time, but we still want to (develop) and we haven’t gone away,” Compliance president Stephen Ellis said.
Monday marked the end of a 30-day period for evaluating Compliance’s application for an environmental certificate.
The company’s latest application was to address deficiencies in its first application, which the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) rejected in May of 2013.
“In my view, these two failed attempts at getting an application through to the next review stage raises serious questions about Compliance’s competency,” John Snyder, president of the CoalWatch Comox Valley Society, said in a news release.
“I suppose that after addressing the issues raised by the EAO, Compliance may wish to re-submit another application. However, they’ll still be facing the fact that there’s no social licence for their project, and the reality of moving this ill-advised project forward faces an ever-increasing headwind.”
Ellis says public misinformation has been circulating about the project. For instance, some are saying that shellfish are dying in Baynes Sound.
“We haven’t even got a mine yet,” he said. “We’ve got nothing to do with that. Then they’re linking it with us, saying the last thing we need now is a mine. But our application states that we wouldn’t have any impact on Baynes Sound.”
He also notes ill-perceived issues about dust in Port Alberni, where coal would be stored and shipped.
Ellis said the mine will be developed in an environmentally friendly manner.
“We spent more than $20 million on this. We still want to see an answer there.”
As for Snyder’s claim about social licence, Ellis feels no such thing exists.
“If you talk about social responsibility, then I think we are. That’s why it’s taking so long to get through the EA (Environmental Assessment) process. We decided to answer every question, both technically and in our application.”
Snyder acknowledges all who have voiced concerns and opposition to the mine over the past five-plus years.
“From writing letters, going to rallies, supporting our CoalWatch fundraising dinners, and placing lawn signs, please know that your efforts have made a difference,” he said.
Up to date information is available at coalwatch.ca.