Telkwa Coal Project has high hazard risk with no trade-off compensation

Glenda Ferris has looked at past proposals and sees too much acidic risk with Telkwa Coal Project.


The Telkwa Coal Project mine proposal being promoted by Allegiance Coal Limited is a major mine development. Within the legal framework of British Columbia, an Environmental Assessment process and Approval are required before any “operational permits” are issued to this company. There have been four decades of varying mine development proposals at this site, none of which proceeded to a BCEAO/BC Environmental Office Approval, let alone “permits.”

Acid Rock Drainage

Due to previous site inventory work — lab test results and field trials — we know that many rock types within the mine waste rock stream at this site contain sufficient sulphide mineralization to generate ARD (acid rock drainage). In simple terms, the minerals will oxidize into sulfide-state and when any water (rain, snowmelt, groundwater) flows to those locations, ARD will be the result. In addition, heavy metals such as manganese will be entrained within the acidic flows. Acidity levels will be sufficient to adversely affect the Telkwa and Bulkley Rivers if mitigation strategies are not effective.

Mine Site Inventory

Field trials on site were completed during the 1990s using silt stone, green sandstone and mudstone that are waste products at this mine site. The small deposits went acidic within 18 months. Another waste product identified has been the Coarse Rejects and the “wash stream waste,” both of which tested as acid generating. Several million tonnes of mine waste will be produced throughout the Telkwa Coal mine life; that mine waste will remain after the company is long gone.

Containment of Hazards for Rivers’ Safety

One of the primary principles with the B.C. ARD guidelines is that mine site ARD must be contained through ponds and/or collection systems. The principle of containment cannot be guaranteed at this mine site. At Telkwa Coal the coal seams are layered between aforementioned mudstones, sandstones, sand and gravels. This site condition means that flooded open pits, collection ponds and/or tailings impoundment pond water levels may not be maintained through time, since sand and gravel lenses will provide drainage pathways to both the Bulkley and Telkwa Rivers.


If water covers are the “mitigation” for ARD-risks to prevent oxidation of sulfide minerals, and, due to site geology, water covers cannot be guaranteed, ARD will proceed due to wet-dry cycle and groundwater discharges.

Major mine developments are mine waste storage facilities, forever. Waste rock, coal spoils and coal-wash rejects are the hazards. Included into this is the knowledge of past proposals have included eight open pits within the mine site footprint. Those pit walls will also become a hazard for ARD, since they may not retain a water cover over all sulphide-rock type layers year round.

Trade-off, jobs for long term damage?

I have assessed and reviewed three different mine proposals at this Telkwa Site. All of them represented several levels of high hazard conditions with no “trade-off” compensation that would balance the damage done nor the risks to our watersheds.


Glenda Ferris



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Chris, Tahltan collaborate on COVID-19 safety

Mine continues to operate with several new measures aimed at stopping spread of virus

Closures and cancellations in the Bulkley Valley due to COVID-19

Many places and businesses have closed or reduced their hours

School district #54 works on school plan

School district officials and teachers are this week communicating plans to resume… Continue reading

UPDATE: Man drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read