In a regulatory filing Friday, CEC officials said I-Comox Coal, a division of Itochu, provided notice earlier this year that it would withdraw from the 2009 JV.
I-Comox held 20% of the venture, Compliance owns 60% and the balance is held by partner LG. Compliance serves as operator of the venture, which includes Raven and the nearby Bear deposit, while the other two were to have exclusive marketing rights for all production.
Also, according to management discussion and analysis in the filing, all CEC Vancouver Island exploration properties are on “care and maintenance” until either another partner is found or until capital markets improve and additional capital can be obtained for further exploration.
One environmental group called the partner’s withdrawal a “serious statement”, though he noted it was not clear how it would impact Raven.
“Given a lack of social license and the widespread opposition or concern coming from the shellfish industry, First Nations, and local governments, the withdrawal adds to an already significant headwind in Compliance's quest for an approval of the Raven coal mine project,” CoalWatch president John Snyder said.
CEC has not been on the best path over the past several months. President John Tapics resigned in June, though he will remain with the company as an advisor and director.
Stephen Ellis was tapped to succeed him as president and chief operations officer, and Grant Tanaska was appointed CFO.
Earlier that month, the company said it had no plans to explore Raven’s sister deposits Bear Coal or Anderson Lake, even if Raven received a green light for production.
“The reason basically concerns the world coal price,” Ellis said in mid-June.
“We’ll develop the Raven and that’ll be great. It’s a big enough challenge.”
He noted that, even if it held a license for a deposit, it was required to undergo the remainder of the application process for another claim.
“You can’t piggyback on the back of another application,” Ellis said.
“Would we want to take that on again?”
Ellis said the Anderson Lake application had been held in abeyance since being filed in 2007.
Compliance did not make any further public statement on the revelation by press time.
The Raven coal deposit holds about 72 million tonnes of measured and indicated coal suitable for the metallurgical and thermal markets.