October 22nd, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 41
Pro Riversdale council opposes load outs
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: website
Pass Herald Reporter
More than three decades after Coleman Colliers shut down their load out facility, concern is building that the proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project could once again leave the community under a layer of dust.
“All you’ve got to do is go to Coleman and ask some of the older ladies that had trouble keeping their houses clean because the load out was right next to town,” said Councillor Bill Kovach.
Council is expressing its support for Riversdale Resources and the proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project but does not want a load out facility built near the community.
“It would be a shame to go backwards and put up that type of facility again here in the valley,” he continued. “Even if it’s like Riversdale said, that it’ll be 99 per cent dust free, you’re still going to have a major industrial facility in the middle of the valley right next to a beautiful wetland.”
About three weeks ago, Riversdale Resources revealed three rail load out options for the Grassy Mountain project, which would include a load out structure either north of Coleman or on the Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club.
The load out structure would be about 15 metres high and would transfer coal from a conveyor belt to train cars.
Council passed a motion opposing the proposed rail load out options after an in-camera session of council on Oct. 7.
“I believe that our community supports Riversdale’s efforts to develop a mine at Grassy Mountain. I really feel strongly about that,” says Mayor Blair Painter.
“We have a long history of mining here in the Crowsnest Pass and our community understands the coal industry. But what this community does not want is industrial load out facilities in close proximity to residential areas,” he continued.
On Sept. 30 Riversdale Vice President of Technical Services David Leslie explained that the overland conveyor feeding the load out structure would be closed to reduce dust. Train cars would be loaded in an enclosed space.
While Mayor Blair Painter acknowledges that these technologies will reduce the threat from coal dust, he says moving the load out as far north as possible would be better for the community, though it would be a costlier option.
“The conveyor belts will be an enclosed structure but it won’t be hermetically sealed,” says Painter. “What we don’t want is our community to be black with dust.”
Painter, a lifelong Pass resident, remembers when Coleman Colliers was operating a tipple just north of Highway 3, which coated Coleman and Blairmore in a fine layer of coal dust.
“Our community knows coal,” he says. “We’ve gone through this. I know technology has improved through the years but the reality is coal is coal. Its black and its dusty so we want to minimize the effects to our community.”
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Riversdale has been informed of council’s concerns and Painter says he’s hoping to find a solution that will satisfy both parties.
Riversdale community liaison Keith Bott says the company is prepared to work with the municipality to find a solution and says the three main concerns he heard from citizens at the Sept. 30 open house were coal dust, unsightly mining infrastructure and noise.
“Its forced us to sit down and come up with options,” he said. “We haven’t completely written it off based on that but it’s forced us to come back and look for options that are esthetically acceptable, that keeps down the noise and the dust.
Riversdale owns right to develop golf course
On Sept. 30, when Riversdale unveiled the three load out options for getting coal from a potential plant site near Grassy Mountain to secondary tracks along the railroad near Highway 3, one of the options called for laying a looped track through nine holes of the Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club. The clubhouse could also be affected.
Before being acquired by Riversdale, the land the golf course is built on was owned by Devon Canada and CONSOL. They seem to have been long prepared for the possibility of developing the golf course.
An agreement made between Devon, CONSOL and the Crowsnest Pass Golf and Country Club contains two conditions, which specifically allow for using golf course land to transport coal.
According to one of the conditions, “The Grantor agrees that it will not oppose any future development applications by the Grantee for development of the coal reserves on the Grantee’s properties lying north of the Devon/CONSOL Lands or the Gold Course Lands.”
In plain English, this means Riversdale is legally allowed to tear up the golf course to build mining infrastructure.
Even if Riversdale agrees to move the load out structure further north, a rail line would need to be built off the main line and up through the golf course.
The second option calls for a load-out about 2 kilometers west of the Golf and Country Club in Coleman. Both of these options call for trains traveling under Highway 3.
The third option involves running a coal conveyor under Highway 3 west of the Tim Hortons in Blairmore.
All three proposed options involve a conveyor belt transporting coal to a load out facility on secondary tracks along the railroad near Highway 3.
October 22nd ~ Vol. 84 No. 41
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