Elkford not supporting Bingay Coal

The District of Elkford is officially not supporting the proposed Bingay coal mine, 21 kms North of the District, at this time. The District is sending a letter to the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, & Petroleum Resources expressing concerns about the proposed coal mine.

Mayor Dean McKerracher says they’re worried about the potential effects on the environment, drinking water, recreation and quality of life. McKerracher, who has been the mayor for 12 years, says every year the proponent, Centermount, has presents different details to the District.

Initially Centermount offered to build a subdivision for their employees, a head office for management, and a working schedule that supports community. The four on/four off schedule, currently used at the other Elk Valley mines, has had a negative impact on community and businesses. All of these offers are not included in the current proposal.

McKerracher asserts that there also continues to be uncertainty around certain aspects of the project. Centermount doesn’t specify how they are going to ship the coal out of the valley. It’s estimated if they transported by truck, there would be 30-40 vehicles running through the community every day and McKerracher says that’s not an option. He also adds there’s been discussion of Centermount accessing the railroad above Teck’s Greenhills operation but no decisions have been made. Regardless, the mayor says Council will remain opposed to the project until the company addresses the environmental and social issues.

Following an open house in Elkford last month, McKerracher commented that a huge majority residents are opposed to the proposed mine. McKerracher said that SNC-Lavalin representatives for Centermount, who attended the open house, couldn’t answer most of the questions from the public or council. SNC-Lavalin has been retained by Centermount with hope of securing the approvals to move forward. SNC-Lavalin has had past success in securing the desired approvals from the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, & Petroleum Resources.

The community of Elkford has rallied with a Facebook group and an open house with Tom Shypitka, East Kootenay MLA, to address their concerns.

McKerracher says that Bingay remains as an opportunity however there appear to be too many uncertainties. It’s expected that Centermount will present to the District of Elkford sometime this year.