Questions for Telkwa Coal open house

Questions for Telkwa Coal open house

Writers have ideas on what to ask about at Telkwa Coal’s May 23 open house.

Hat trick: Three things you can do to be an informed community member:

• Attend Allegiance’s open house on May 23 in the Telkwa Elementary School gym, 5-8 p.m.;

• At the open house, look for information about handling of waste, environmental review, project size, the haul road, and the use of local water sources;

• Ask some good questions.

Examples:

Can Allegiance prevent toxic runoff into the rivers?

Allegiance plans to start operations in the Tenas Pit area near Goathorn Creek. Two other open pit areas are planned. The Tenas Pit alone will produce 123 million cubic metres of waste rock. Previous studies establish a high likelihood of acid rock drainage (sulphuric acid) from this waste. Acid rock drainage is toxic to aquatic life; the leaching of heavy metals is additional cause for concern. Can these toxic materials be contained? What happens if they are not?

Will the project undergo a full Environmental Assessment?

Allegiance has variously stated that initial operations will produce somewhere between 240,000 and 249,000 tons of coal per year. The minimum production to trigger a full EAA is 250,000 tons per year. Allegiance has stated it set the production number to take advantage of the more “defined” review process available under the Mines Act. Allegiance admits that it plans to ramp up to between 1.5 and 1.75 million tons per year. [Editor’s note: The latest information released by Allegiance has the annual weight of production between 240,000 to 900,000 tonnes.] Is Allegiance trying to avoid a full EAA?

How big is this project?

Allegiance has characterized this as a small mine. However, each open pit area will be about the size of Tyhee Lake and well over 100 metres deep.

What route will Allegiance use to haul the coal?

Allegiance’s current plan is to use the main road [Coalmine Road] through Telkwa to haul coal. At the lowest level of production, this would require two massive coal mine trucks per hour to travel through Telkwa. If Allegiance’s planned ramp-up takes place, this would multiply the number of trucks by more than six times, or more than 12 trucks per hour.

Where will water come from?

This type of coal mining requires huge amounts of water for washing. Where will it come from? Local wells will probably not be enough, so this leaves the rivers as a source to draw upon. What effects will draw downs have on the rivers and fish, especially during time of low water levels?

Bulkley Valley residents

Jay Gilden & Liliana Pesce

Telkwa Coal