Raven Coal job promises are inflated

33.6 per cent, or 580 square km, of the Comox Valley is currently covered by coal licence applications and existing coal tenures

  • Feb. 12, 2015 7:00 a.m.

A staggering 33.6 per cent, or 580 square km, of the Comox Valley is currently covered by coal licence applications and existing coal tenures whose owners, like Compliance Energy, are poised to profit from Premier Christy Clark’s coal mine and coal port expansion program that she markets as creating jobs for B.C. residents and economic enhancement.

It is curious, therefore, that given a global plunge in coal prices and demand resulting in cascading mine closures, bankruptcies and job losses, this is not the time to support building a new coal mine or to put any faith in Compliance Energy’s promise of 300 jobs and $1 billion revenue for nearby communities.

Currently, more than 1,000 B.C. coal miners have lost their jobs, including one half of the Quinsam Coal Mine workforce off 144, leaving families and their communities economically stunned.

Even if the market for coal revived, research indicates mining job promises tend to be inflated and would fluctuate depending on the stage of mine development and global market. Also, high-paying jobs requiring three-five years experience and professional training tend to be filled by people living outside the community. Quinsam’s promised 300 jobs leveled off at 144, but half of these jobs were recently slashed in response to market conditions.

Rather than increasing jobs, mining communities are afflicted with job losses in industries like shellfish aquaculture, tourism, recreation and retirement that can not coexist in a mining zone. The shellfish industry alone employs about 600 workers in this region.

Now that finally, and tragically, the Mount Polley tailings spill has exposed the myth that mining companies and our government are committed to protecting the environment, it is time to expose the equally perilous myth that the Raven Coal Mine will economically benefit communities and create jobs.

Sharon SmallComox Valley

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