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Brielle Will photo
Attendants of the Line Creek open house discuss the proposed project on Tuesday, February 28th in Sparwood.
Representatives from Teck’s Line Creek operations held an open house in Sparwood last Tuesday, February 28th to announce that the Environmental Assessment Certificate (EA) application has been submitted for the Phase II expansion project, as well as to answer any questions from the public Teck has proposed to expand its current Line Creek mining operations, to the north to include the Burnt Ridge North and Mount Michael. The mine life extension is estimated to provide a combined 59 million tonnes of clean coal and will add 18 years to the Line Creek Operations, to 2032.
Project Assessment Director, Karen Christie, began by providing an overview of the EA process, which is now in a public comment period and application review stage.
“An EA is about determining what the future effects would be from proposed actions of a project,” said Christie.
“We look at the environment, economics, health, heritage and social effects of this mine expansion. It is all about good decision making.”
The process is over 60 per cent complete with about 180 days set for review and an additional 45 days before the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources is required to make a decision on the project by mid-August.
“There many participants in the review,” said Christie, noting the different federal and provincial agencies, local governments of the Elk Valley communities and Crowsnest Pass municipality as well as the
Ktunaxa First Nations.
“It is a very comprehensive look at the application.”
The series of presenters to follow included Line Creek General Manager Don Sander who gave a broad overview of Teck, as well as Nic Milligan, Manager of Communities and Aboriginal Affairs who focused on community sustainability, Manager of Permitting Mark Digel on Teck’s regional programs, Line Creek Superintendent of Engineering Lyle Douglas, who spoke specifically on the Phase II project and Sarah Lancaster who wrapped up with more information on the EA.
“It basically maintains the current employee rate of 486 for another 18 years,” stated Douglas.

He added although the project is in a new area, many of the structures already in place will continue to be utilized.
“The entire project is designed around maintaining the infrastructure and keeping the processing plant with coal for another 18 years,” said Douglas.
“The rail and load out facilities which have been there for the past 29 years are still being used.”
“All of the conveying systems in place have a very high end technologically advanced system, which takes the coal through the canyon.”
Office buildings, main power distribution and the coal storage areas will also be maintained for use.
“The Elk Valley is a relatively unique situation where Teck has a number of operations in the same watershed. We are not looking at the project in complete isolation,” said Lancaster about the EAC process to identify valued components in the area.
“An example of focus in our detailed assessment might be species like bighorn sheep or Westlope Cutthroat trout.”
“When we follow up with the EA, we don’t always know everything about everything so we move forward with conservative assumptions.”
According to Lancaster, the overall result of the EA, ongoing since 2009, is that the project can be undertaken without significant adverse effects to the biophysical aspects of economics, social, heritage, health and environment.
The only significant effect yet to be identified was associated with when the mine closes and the potential for job loss, she added.
Line Creek, located roughly 20 km northeast of Sparwood, employs 486 people, of whom 22 per cent live in Sparwood, another seven per cent are located in Elkford, 25 per cent commute from Fernie and about 16 per cent who reside in Crowsnest Pass.
One of the main outputs of the project includes the selenium management process and selenium water treatment plant, representing an effort to reduce the build up of the natural chemical in the Elk River, stated Milligan.
“One of the primary benefits we seek is the continuation of the jobs and economic and community sustainability,” said Milligan.
“We hope to receive as many frank questions and comments as we can from tonight so people feel they have been heard and concerns have been integrated into the project design.”
The entire project proposal can be viewed online at and Teck will be responding to all public comments and questions.
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