November 4th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 43
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Riversdale’s open house highlights
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
On Oct. 29, Benga Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia-based Riversdale Resources Ltd., held an open house at the MDM Community Centre to discuss the Grassy Mountain Coal Project.

In a presentation to several hundred attendees, Riversdale executives Calvin Clark, Development Manager, Steve Mallyon, Managing Director, and David Leslie, Vice President of Technical Services, gave an update on the project and fielded questions from the audience.

They were joined by representatives from a number of contractors including Pearce Shewchuk, management and economic consultant with Nichols Applied Management, and Dane McCoy, an environmental consultant with Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd.

Here are the highlights:

Riversdale: a low cost operator

Mallyon described Riversdale as a small, low-cost operator that specializes in developing projects during economic downturns.

“Every project we’ve ever developed has been during a downturn,” he said. “We compete for services such as trucks and equipment but also people and expertise and we find that there is a lot more available during the bad times than there is during the good.”

This approach will keep the project competitive in the long term regardless of the price of metallurgical coal and has ensured that all of the coal projects the company began are still operating, said Mallyon.

Crowsnest resident Ian Lowe-Wylde asked if the company would consider making a capital investment in the community.

“I think Riversdale needs to invest in some real hard money rather than just providing jobs,” he said. “Build us something that we get to keep when you leave.”

Mallyon did not consent to making any such investment but said the company would help foster new businesses over the course of the mine’s life.

“It’s not our desire to create a monument to mining and Riversdale,” he said. “The economic model that we’ve looked at is a participatory one. We’re not interested in being a company town or a major employer.”

Clark said the company has contributed to the community through Australia Day, the rodeo and weed pulls.

“I think building a legacy in a community is something we believe in,” he said. “Given where we’re at in the project… I think we’ve already made a massive contribution to this community. Will these legacy items change over time? Absolutely.”
continued below ...
Riversdale has spent $17 million to date in Canada, not including the $49.5 million US they spent to acquire 35,000-acres of coal properties and freehold land assets in the area, including the Grassy Mountain Project, from Devon Energy and Consol Energy in June 2013.

Since then they’ve spent $3.8 million in the Pass, mostly on salaries.

Nuts and bolts and dust

Grassy Mountain is expected to have a 25 year mine life. Fifty per cent of the project will be located on Riversdale’s land and the rest on Crown land. At its peak, the mine will produce 4 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year for Asian and South American steelmakers. The company is proposing to locate a rail loop and load out facility on the community golf course, which will load an average of 4.8 trains per week.

A covered conveyor belt would transport the coal to the load out facility before it would make the 1150 kilometre journey to Westshore Terminals in Vancouver. Mallyon said Westshore is undertaking an expansion to accommodate the Grassy Mountain Coal Project.

Coal dust would be controlled by a Sedgman Ltd. designed load out structure and other initiatives, said McCoy.

“There are federal and provincial guidelines that must be met by the project,” he said. “The project will absolutely be within the emissions standards.”

Leslie said during full production the ration of overburden to coal being moved will be about nine to one. At 4 million tonnes a year, that means 36 million cubic meters of rock will be moved through drilling and blasting.

The waste rock would then be loaded onto haul trucks and moved to two waste disposal areas but once they’re filled, the rock will be moved back into the mine.

“Otherwise we wouldn’t have enough room for all the waste material,” said Leslie.

Documents to be made public

All of the submission material, the application and the supporting environmental impact document from the Feasibility Study and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be available to the public.

Mallyon said the EIA would be submitted before the end of the year.

The project will undergo a joint federal and provincial review process. It is anticipated the entire process will take anywhere from 15 to 18 months. Permitting, licensing and construction are expected to take an additional 18-months and the first coal shipment would be delivered around the first quarter of 2019.
continued below ...
Lifestyles to be affected

In a question to the assembled mining executives, Lowe-Wylde asked how the project would affect the community.

“When I moved here, I didn’t know there was going to be coal mine,” he said. “My biggest concern is if I’m going to stay here, how is my quality of life going to change? And what’s Blairmore going to look like in ten or fifteen years?”

“Yes there’s going to be some dust and noise, it’s going to be ugly [but] how will the community improve?” he asked.

Shewchuk cited a social impact assessment published by Nichols Applied Management that promises growth for the community if the mine opens.

Data contained in the assessment based on 2011 census numbers indicates the population of the Pass is shrinking and aging. The project would induce in-migration, though the assessment indicates Sparwood is a slightly more attractive community than Crowsnest mainly because there is more municipal infrastructure in Sparwood.

“It’s got community amenities that people find attractive,” said Shewchuk who emphasized that the project would still be good for the Pass.
“I think a project like this provides opportunity for jobs and we hope those jobs bring young people back into the community,” he said.
The population influx would increase the size of the community’s volunteer base and the size of classrooms.

“These are all positive aspects of population growth,” he said. “Without young people and without economic opportunity, communities tend to shrink and die and I think a project like this provides an opportunity to stave that off.”

Crowsnest resident John Redekopp disagreed with Shewchuk’s assessment of the Pass.

“You were talking about our dying community,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you, I take exception to that. Quality of life is why I moved here. I remember what the Crowsnest Pass used to be and what it looked like. When the mines stopped, things got cleaned up and I think it became a very nice place. I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen here.”
rowsnest resident Peter Bubik questioned the accuracy of the Nichols report and asked if it showed how many residents might not move to the Pass because of its proximity to infrastructure associated with a coal mine.

“I can’t get away from the feeling that you guys are only exposing what is convenient for you to show the community,” he said.

Shewchuk said the report had not been published yet but data from the social impact assessment was presented to the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce at Stone’s Throw Cafe on Oct. 14.

Another resident was unabashedly pro-mine.

I’ve watched Blairmore go from having a fairly thriving main street to something that looks like it’s out of the movie Blazing Saddles,” he said. “The stores are closing down and it’s sad to me that I’ve never heard a person tonight stand up and say this is a damn good idea.”

“Yes there’s going to be some dust and noise, it’s going to be ugly [but] how will the community improve?” he asked.

Shewchuk cited a social impact assessment published by Nichols Applied Management that promises growth for the community if the mine opens.

Data contained in the assessment based on 2011 census numbers indicates the population of the Pass is shrinking and aging. The project would induce in-migration, though the assessment indicates Sparwood is a slightly more attractive community than Crowsnest mainly because there is more municipal infrastructure in Sparwood.

“It’s got community amenities that people find attractive,” said Shewchuk who emphasized that the project would still be good for the Pass.

“I think a project like this provides opportunity for jobs and we hope those jobs bring young people back into the community,” he said.

The population influx would increase the size of the community’s volunteer base and the size of classrooms.

“These are all positive aspects of population growth,” he said. “Without young people and without economic opportunity, communities tend to shrink and die and I think a project like this provides an opportunity to stave that off.”

Crowsnest resident John Redekopp disagreed with Shewchuk’s assessment of the Pass.

“You were talking about our dying community,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you, I take exception to that. Quality of life is why I moved here. I remember what the Crowsnest Pass used to be and what it looked like. When the mines stopped, things got cleaned up and I think it became a very nice place. I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen here.”
Crowsnest resident Peter Bubik questioned the accuracy of the Nichols report and asked if it showed how many residents might not move to the Pass because of its proximity to infrastructure associated with a coal mine.

“I can’t get away from the feeling that you guys are only exposing what is convenient for you to show the community,” he said.

Shewchuk said the report had not been published yet but data from the social impact assessment was presented to the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce at Stone’s Throw Cafe on Oct. 14.

Another resident was unabashedly pro-mine.

I’ve watched Blairmore go from having a fairly thriving main street to something that looks like it’s out of the movie Blazing Saddles,” he said. “The stores are closing down and it’s sad to me that I’ve never heard a person tonight stand up and say this is a damn good idea.”
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November 4th ~ Vol. 85 No. 43
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