Castle Mountain to require a Federal Environmental Assessment
Teck’s Castle coal mine will require a federal environmental assessment, Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced this week. The Minister ordered the assessment for the large coal mine in the Elk Valley after conservation groups, First Nations, U.S. governments and hundreds of members of the public requested a full federal assessment of the project.
Here is Minister’s Response:
Date: August 19, 2020
Teck Coal Limited proposes the Castle Project (the Project), an open-pit metallurgical coal mine expansion of Fording River Operations. The purpose of the Project is to gain access to an adjacent deposit of more economically mineable coal to the south of the existing Fording River Operations.
The Castle Project would maintain the production capacity of 10 million tonnes per year (27,400 tonnes per day). Although the exact mine life is currently unknown, it is expected to be several decades. The Project would be located approximately 30 kilometres north of Elkford, British Columbia, 5 kilometres west of the British Columbia–Alberta border, and 130 kilometres north of the Canada–United States border.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has considered the potential for the Project to cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction, adverse direct or incidental effects, public concerns related to these effects, as well as adverse impacts on the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The Minister also considered the analysis of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
The Minister has reached the decision that the designation of the Project is warranted for the following reasons:
The area of mining operations for the Project would be below the 50 percent threshold, but at 27,400 tonnes per day, well above the total coal production capacity threshold of 5,000 tonnes per day described in Item 19(a) of the Physical Activities Regulations;
The Project may cause adverse direct and cumulative effects to areas of federal jurisdiction, including to transboundary environments (in particular to fish and fish habitat including, water quality, species at risk, and Indigenous peoples) that may not be mitigated through project design or the application of standard mitigation measures;
The concerns expressed by the requesters, Indigenous groups, federal authorities, other jurisdictions, members of the public, and those that are known to the Agency that relate to adverse effects within federal jurisdiction or adverse direct or incidental effects may not be fully addressed by the provincial environmental assessment process or through federal and provincial permitting for this Project (specifically, effects to transboundary environments, fish and fish habitat, and Indigenous peoples); and,
the Project may cause adverse impacts on Aboriginal and Treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and matters related to Indigenous peoples within federal jurisdiction that cannot be addressed through existing legislative and regulatory mechanisms.