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Plans and regulatory process update for NWP Coal

Crown Mountain drill hole. Photo from NWP Coal website.

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Apr 5, 2023

“This is a huge step in the new era for natural resource development in British Columbia."

There has been a recent update on the regulatory process for the NWP Crown Mountain Coking Coal Project in the Elk Valley. Dave Baines, the Director of Project Development, spoke with the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass about the changes while showing off new digital models of the project on March 28. He started off with giving a bit of background to the location of the mine in B.C.

“We are [at] Crown Mountain. It is a little mountain located near Sparwood about 13 kilometers... right against the Elkview coal mine. We’re just over a ridge from that mine and down the valley from the Line Creek Mine,” said Baines.

According to Baines it is a smaller mine. Once operational, it will produce 30 million tons of clean coal over about 15 years at two million tons a year. This was followed by a look at the project’s development plan where he showed detailed plans and walked them through some of the major milestones as the project progresses.

“Year four is one of our anchor years. This is when we [have] our maximum disturbance at the north and. For the first four years our footprint is very small,” said Baines. 

By the time reclamation is completed he said they will have brought everything back, including the slopes. The only thing that won’t be gone is the main settling pond.

“That pond has to stay until we can prove that the water coming off the site meets release criteria. If that includes adding an active water treatment plant, that’s what we need to do. We’ll be there until it’s clean,’ explained Baines.

For the regulatory update, he showed how the process has changed since they started the application in 2014. It took four more years to first approve the start of an environmental assessment which required looking at the application requirements and finding out how to perform an assessment. 

“We had an application together just about ready to go to the government, but they changed the act on us and we have to do some adjustments,” said Baines.

NWP Coal have an application almost ready to go to review again with the government agreeing with them on not having to repeat the early steps of the process again with the B.C government.

“The federal process is certainly more complicated,” said Baines.

He said it took them a year to decide how they wanted NWP Coal to do the application when they started in 2014 but there are complications. Baines added that the federal government and the B.C. government have never tried to do an assessment under the new B.C. Act and the old federal one.

“Between the two governments, the indigenous folks and our company, the first big milestone is going into public comment period, [then] doing open houses, going through technical reviews, getting information requests and improving the application,” said Baines.

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band or YQT) and NWP Coal announced they have signed a “one-of-a-kind Environmental Assessment Process and Consent Agreement” for the proposed project.  Under the agreement, YQT will act as a regulator and reviewer of the project and will fully engage in the environmental assessment of the project for the purpose of providing or withholding consent to the project following completion of the environmental assessment.

“This is a huge step in the new era for natural resource development in British Columbia. NWP is committed to designing and operating a better Project which includes learning from the past, building environmental controls into the Project from the beginning, and taking direction from Indigenous Nations. Having support and a strongly built relationship with YQT throughout the process and timelines of the Project ensures that NWP will understand the impacts of the Project on Indigenous Nations in natural resource development,” stated Michael Gray, the President of NWP.

More information on the company is available at with the presentation to council available on the municipal website.

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