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Raven will re-submit

Company proposing coal mine near Buckley Bay says it may take up to two months to gather info requested by environmental assessment office

Stephen Ellis says Compliance Coal remains undeterred.

The vice-president of the company behind the proposed Raven Coal Mine near Buckley Bay says Compliance plans to re-submit its application after the provincial environmental assessment office (EAO) rejected the company's first attempt last week.

The application itself was 12,000 pages long and Ellis told The NEWS on Wednesday the company wasn't shocked to receive 114 pages of questions from the EAO, information that must be included in the next submission, which Ellis said he expects will happen within the next two months.

"It's pretty typical to get comments back from the first review," Ellis told The NEWS from his Courtenay office. "It (the information requested by the EAO) is not insignificant. There's some work to do and we will be on that. It's not going to be a quick fix."

Ellis also said people opposed to the mine proposal should take note of how the process is working.

"If you are an opponent of the project, this shows the government is doing its job," he said.

In a letter to Compliance president and CEO John Tapics dated May 16, the EAO said "the application does not contain the required information and (the EAO) has decided not to accept the application for detailed review."

The BCEAO also released a 114-page document "that identifies the major information requirements that EAO considers not to have been adequately addressed . . .. . . should Compliance wish to revise and resubmit its application to EAO for evaluation . . . we request that Compliance first incorporate into the application the information identified (in that 114-page document)."

Groups opposed to the mine were quick to respond to the EAO's decision.

"A review of the screening comments seems to indicate significant gaps in the application, some of it having to do with public, First Nations, and stakeholder consultation; hydrology issues; and marine baseline studies," CoalWatch president John Snyder said in a news release. "Given the widespread concerns about our  vulnerable aquifers and the Baynes Sound shellfish industry, it's remarkable the application contained information gaps on these important issues."

Snyder said he believes this step "adds to an already significant headwind Compliance is facing in getting their project approved."

Snyder said CoalWatch plans to continue doing research and raising concerns about the proposal and will be closely monitoring the environmental review process for future developments.

"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.

Tapics, the Compliance president and CEO, offered this on the company's website:

"The screening review is a scan of the application for the purposes of determining whether the AIR have been met, and does not constitute an in depth review to determine whether or not issues have been addressed and resolved to EAO's satisfaction. The company and its consultants are in the process of reviewing the comments returned by the EAO and plan to provide clarification or additional information and then resubmit the application for further review once the comments have been adequately addressed."

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