A staggering 33.6 per cent of the Comox Valley is currently covered by coal licence applications and existing coal tenures. Owners, like Compliance Energy, are poised to profit from Premier Clark’s coal mine and coal port expansion program that is pitched to create jobs and economic enhancement.
Given a global plunge in coal prices and demand resulting in cascading mine closures, bankruptcies, and job losses, this is not the time to support building a new coal mine or to put any faith in Compliance Energy’s promise of 300 jobs and one billion dollar revenue for nearby communities.
Currently, over 1,000 B.C. coal miners have lost their jobs, including one half of the Quinsam Coal Mine workforce off 144, leaving families and their communities economically stunned.
Even if the market for coal revived, research indicates mining job promises tend to be inflated and would fluctuate depending on the stage of mine development and global market.
Also, high-paying jobs requiring three to five years’ experience and professional training tend to be filled by people living outside the community.
Quinsam’s promised 300 jobs levelled off at 144, but half of these jobs were recently slashed in response to market conditions.
More alarming, however, is compelling evidence that when a coal mine moves into the neighbourhood, communities can suffer devastating and irreversible economic hardships related to declining population, loss of revenue and significant loss of jobs in industries that cannot coexist in a coal mining zone.
Comox Valley communities would witness significant job losses in industries that demand preserving and protecting a beautiful and welcoming environment and that are supported in regional and community plans. These include tourism, arts and entertainment, recreation, retirement and shellfish aquaculture.
This is not a local NIMBY issue, as the economic effects of such a dramatic reversal of economic vision would resonate throughout Vancouver Island.
Now that finally and tragically the Mount Polley tailings spill has exposed the myth that mining companies and our government are committed to protecting the environment, it is time to expose the equally perilous myth that the Raven Coal Mine will economically benefit communities and create jobs.