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Raven proponent cites support
Compliance Coal continues to work through the application process for a proposed mine near Buckley Bay and the company's CEO says the project has support from local residents.
CoalWatch's John Snyder told The NEWS recently the Raven project "doesn't have any social licence, never has, never will."
Compliance CEO Stephen Ellis doesn't see it that way.
"Most people here would like it," Ellis said this week. "Most people I talk to ask me when we are going to start this mine. I get a letter a day from people who are interested and want to put in an application for a job."
Ellis also said he hears from six potential suppliers a week who are also wondering when the project will get started.
On its website (www.theravenproject.ca), the company says it expects to hire up to 200 workers during construction and create up to 350 full-time jobs. The underground operation would be centred about five kilometres west of the Buckley Bay ferry terminal. That's less than 50 km from downtown Qualicum Beach.
The provincial Environmental Assessment Office announced in May it had rejected Compliance’s initial application. The company received 114 pages of questions from the EAO about the application, information the EAO said must be included in any subsequent submission.
Ellis said the company has submitted a trial section of sorts to the EAO.
“What we wanted to make sure is what we are doing is on the right track,” he said. “We are committed to putting this application in and we will follow this process through.”
Ellis said he expects it will be four-six months before Compliance is ready to re-submit its application to the EAO. If that happens and the application is accepted, a 180-day information review begins, including 50-day public consultation period.
Meanwhile, Ellis said Compliance is continuing its consultations with First Nations in the area. He said the company has met with eight of the 20 First Nations they must speak with, and he was asked to characterize how those talks are going.
“They seem to be going OK,” said Ellis. “It’s a consultation — we are listening to what they say.”
Back in May when the company’s initial application was rejected, Snyder of Comox-based CoalWatch said his group will be ready if the company tries again.
“All of us live in the communities that will be impacted by the mine, and if Compliance plans on resubmitting another application, we’ll be there to meet it head on,” said Snyder.
Within weeks of the news the initial application had been rejected, Compliance announced that both CEO John Tapics and CFO Jim Defer were leaving the company.
“They worked on this project a long time,” said Ellis, vice-president of the company before the departure of Tapics. “They wanted to move on. I don’t think you can read anything (more) into it.”
On Monday, Snyder sent a news release saying Compliance’s Japanese partner in the Raven project, Itochu Corporation, has issued notice that it would be withdrawing from the venture. Itochu, through a subsiduary called I-Comox Coal, was a 20 per cent partner in the Raven project.
“The withdrawal of Itochu is a serious statement by one of the founding partners, though it is unclear how it will impact the proposed Raven Coal Project,” Snyder said Monday in the CoalWatch news release. “Given a lack of social license and the widespread opposition or concern coming from the shellfish industry, First Nations, and local governments — the withdrawal adds to an already significant headwind in Compliance’s quest for an approval of the Raven Coal Mine Project.”