Groups get financial backing for Murray River assessment

THE CANADIAN Environmental Assessment Agency has earmarked more than $C180,000 to six applicants to aid in their participation with the environmental assessment of the HD Mining’s planned Murray River coal project southwest of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia.

Donna Schmidt

The agency has allotted $181,432.41 in all: $50,000 each to Blueberry River First Nations, McLeod Lake Indiana Board and Saulteau First Nations; $10,500 each to Sucker Creek First Nation and Metis Nation of British Columbia; and $10,432.41 to Kelly Lake Metis Settlement Society.

The funds were made available to public and Aboriginal groups earlier this year via an agency-administered Participant Funding Program. It announced the availability of the money in early August and provided a September 6 deadline.

The CEAA said that the groups can now have full participation in upcoming assessment steps for Murray River, including the review of and providing comments for the project’s environmental impact Statement (EIS) and draft environmental assessment report (EAR).

Should the hotly contested operation come to fruition, HD Mining’s Murray River operation will produce 6 million tonnes of met coal annually for about 31 years.

The producer is seeking to construct and operate the underground coal mine and supporting infrastructure, including a 5.8km rail load-out.

HD Mining has taken domestic and international heat, including legal challenges, over the last several months for its move to hire more than 200 Chinese workers over Canadian miners.