Coal mine would affect Comox Valley residents negatively

Dear editor,

For the life of me, I just do not understand why we are considering a coal mine anywhere near the Comox Valley.

Dear editor,

I worked for 25 years in the Coal Mining industry in a variety of different positions and with different companies and for the life of me, I just do not understand why we are considering a coal mine anywhere near the Comox Valley.

The last thing I’m sure we want to see is two smoke stacks looking down the Straight of Georgia because that’s what will be required — smoke stacks for the coal dryer.

Metallurgical coal has to be washed and dried before it is shipped overseas. The coal must be pure with no rock left in the mix. It would be a needless expense to ship anything but the purest coal.

I also wonder realistically, how many “employable people” there are in the Comox Valley? I know many are willing but how many applicants will have the qualifications or underground mining experience?

How many mining engineers, mechanics, firebosses, facemen, etc. are living here waiting for employment? Enough?

Miners have a very high skill set these days with new specialized mining equipment coming out all the time. Whether mechanical miners or hydraulic, employers want experienced workers on the job in order to make the most profit for their company.

Once word gets out that there is an opportunity to work on Vancouver Island, Canada’s best will be applying for jobs here, making the hiring of anyone local high unlikely.

There are also experienced contractors that will maintain the equipment and ship the coal for less. Why would owners bother to negotiate with 25 independent truckers when they can deal with one company that has all the trucks and experience (and will probably pay their employees less)?

Then there is the issue of the yield.

When testing was first done, Compliance Coal Corp said that 50 per cent of the coal would be good for making steel. Now it’s 88 per cent.

How can that be true — are they testing in random spots? Coal seams are natural phenomena and they change and vary in quality of deposits as the landscape changes.

I’m sure that figure will change significantly to make us all wonder if the gain was worth the cost, but by then it will probably be too late.

You only have to go as far as Tsawwassen and look at Westshore terminals that ships over 25 million tons of metallurgical coal overseas from the coal mines of the Elk Valley to see how black and dusty it’s going to be in Fanny bay.

You may wish to talk to the nearby residents to see want happens when the wind blows. I don’t know if I would want to buy shellfish from an area that has two smoke stacks above the bay and piles of coal being blown into it.

I know recently when the Flathead Valley, a wide-open natural tract of land was being threatened with a coal mine, the local MLA effectively put a stop to it.

There was no need for studies or further research to be done; he knew the impact it would have on a sensitive environment and voted against it right away.

How refreshing to have a politician looking at the big picture and not being dazzled by dollar signs. As British Columbians, aren’t we making enough money on the coal industry already?

The bottom line is that this coal mine is going to affect everyone in the Comox Valley, in some very negative ways, now and for years to come. I encourage all residents to voice these or any of your concerns to your provincial and federal representatives because they have the power to stop this from happening.

All something wrong needs in order to succeed is for good people to say nothing. Please say something today.

Carmine Elia,

Comox

 

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