Two more companies have applied for 18 coal licences in the region.
CoalWatch Comox Valley recently revealed the new coal licence applications. CoalWatch president John Snyder says he was surprised when he found them on a government website.
“We were stunned to see this amount of new coal license applications covering such a large area of the Comox Valley,” says Snyder, noting CoalWatch had been focusing on Compliance Coal Corporation’s proposed Raven Underground Coal Project in the Fanny Bay area – which is in the pre-application stage of an environmental assessment.
Feisa Resources Canada Ltd. filed 10 coal licence applications in the area from Fanny Bay to Royston. The total area covered by its applications is 13,312 hectares.
Golden River Resource Inc. filed eight coal licence applications – four in the Anderson Lake area, north of Comox Lake, and four in the Oyster River area. The total area covered by its applications is 9,075 hectares.
Snyder says the Anderson Lake area applications worry him especially.
“The four that are really problematic are the ones by Golden River Resources; those are right in the Tsolum/Puntledge River area which is a really sensitive watershed,” says Snyder, noting the years of work that went into restoring the Tsolum River from pollution due to an old copper mine site on Mount Washington.
Meanwhile, Snyder believes it’s possible some of Feisa Resources coal licence applications may not move forward.
“It appears that most of the ones that are by Feisa Resources Canada overlap, or are smack dab, right on top of Compliance,” says Snyder, noting Compliance already owns 60 per cent of the subsurface mineral rights for a large area of the Comox Valley.
Compliance president and chief operating officer Stephen Ellis says it’s possible some of the area covered in the new applications does overlap.
“We own the subsurface rights to the coal and they can’t be taken away from us — they can be bought from us —but they can’t be taken away,” he said.
Snyder is shocked there’s been no public notice about the new coal licence applications.
In June, the Comox Valley Regional District was asked for comment on licence applications in the Anderson Lake and Oyster River area. The committee of the whole approved letters to the chief inspector of mines requesting no licence be issued due to concern that coal mine exploration, and further exploration, impacts existing industries.
CoalWatch presented its concerns to the CVRD at that time, and Snyder says he will do so again if these other applications make it to that stage of the process.