Recent History – 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak
Minister of Energy and Mines Richard Neufeld broke the news that the District of Tumbler Ridge has been anticipating for years.
“The Western Canadian Coal Corporation for the Wolverine Mine in Tumbler Ridge received its environmental certificate,” he said during a media conference call from Vancouver on Tuesday. “It’s another milestone in getting that mine running for late 2005.”
The Vancouver-based company plans to spend $116 million to begin operation on the Wolverine Mine, located 25 kilometres west of Tumbler Ridge. Neufeld said that the construction of the mine will create 200 jobs and will employ another 200 people when it becomes operational. It is projected that the mine will produce 1.6 million tonnes of open pit coal per year to be used in the production of steel. The deposits are predicted to last 11 years.
“This project demonstrates that environmental, First Nations’ and economic considerations have been addressed to the benefit of the whole community,” said Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom on Tuesday. “It will improve job opportunities and contribute to the financial growth of the whole region. The resurgence of coal mining means a great deal to not only Tumbler Ridge, but also Chetwynd and all northern B.C.”
The process to reopen the mines dates back three years when the initial contact between the company and the district was made. As part of the certification process, Western Canadian Coal provided funding to aboriginal groups including three Treaty 8 First Nations and three Kelly Lake communities to participate in the environmental assessment. In a joint effort, the company and the Environmental Assessment Office hired an independent consulting team to work on behalf of the group.
“This is another example of how mining is back in B.C.,” said Minister of State for Mining Pat Bell. “This project is expected to create 200 full time construction and operational phase jobs – jobs to support local families. The Wolverine Coal Mine has the potential to give the region another boost.”
After receiving a favourable report from the Environmental Assessment Office that determined that the proposed mining operation “adequately addressed environmental, First Nations, health and socioeconomic concerns” the certificate was granted by the ministers responsible for sustainable resource management, water, land and air protection and energy and mines.
Western Canadian Coal also has applications to open mines in Perry Creek and Burnt River, close to Chetwynd.
“We are looking at mining as a sunrise industry instead of a sunset one,” said Neufeld. “The mining industry is doing well in British Columbia right now with commodity prices fairly high.”