Making a molehill out of a mountain

IN WHAT appears to be a direct attempt to distance itself from the increasingly controversial mining method of mountaintop removal, Ontario-based explorer Fortune Minerals has renamed its Mount Klappan anthracite metallurgical coal project in northwestern British Columbia.
Making a molehill out of a mountain Making a molehill out of a mountain Making a molehill out of a mountain Making a molehill out of a mountain Making a molehill out of a mountain

A pilot plant for test mining at Arctos in the 1980s, courtesy Fortune Minerals

Justin Niessner

The project’s new name, Arctos, reflects a rebranding exercise keenly aware of the growing public disapproval for mountaintop mining techniques.

“The previous name led some people to believe that the project would involve mining the entire mountain, which is incorrect,” Fortune president and chief executive Robin Goad said.

“In fact, our proposed mine involves an area north of the main peak around Lost Ridge.”

Mountaintop mining, which involves coal seam removal through surface mining on summit ridges, has come under escalating media pressure and militant community reaction in recent months.

In July, 20 activists were arrested after causing the temporary shutdown of Patriot Coal’s Hobet mine in southern West Virginia.

Earlier this month, Hollywood celebrities such as Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson and Daryl Hannah helped bring the expression “mountaintop removal” into civilian vocabularies with a scolding environmental campaign the coal industry has had practically no success in countering.

The main strategy for damage control, so far, seems to be disassociation with the dispute, especially as such public relations challenges often combine environmental concerns with sensitive cultural issues.

Mount Klappan’s new moniker was announced by Fortune with an explanation that included lessons learned through “discussions” with the region’s indigenous Tahltan people.

“[U]se of the name Klappan can give the incorrect impression that the project will affect this entire area,” the company statement said.

“In addition, a better appreciation of the significant spiritual and cultural importance of this area to the Tahltan and Iskut people contributed to the removal of the word Klappan from the project and joint venture names.”

The name Arctos is a variant of the binomial nomenclature or “naming convention” that is used to identify all living things.

Fortune calls Arctos one of the world’s premier met coal deposits and the most advanced Canadian deposit of high-rank anthracite.

Exploration at the site has resulted in a measured coal resource of 108 million tonnes, 330km northeast of the Pacific coast port of Prince Rupert.

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