The front page article in The News on Sept. 18, entitled, ‘Mine Seeking Support’ reports a presentation by Don Berkshire, the project manager of Compliance Coal to the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, in which he attempts to garner support from the local business community for the proposed Raven Coal Mine.
His objective was to counteract the “negative publicity” and press reporting which to date “is not that favourable.”
The sole justification he offered to the community was the economic benefit the mine would bring to the area by creating 350 new jobs and furthermore he claimed that the average salary of the miners, with benefits, would exceed $100,000 dollars.
He neglected to qualify his statement with the fact that the miners represent only a portion of the total workforce — a comparison to similar ventures would put the figure in the order of 20 per cent.
As well,only those miners actually operating the machinery at the coal face would command the high salary.
The province will receive no economic benefit from royalties because the coal rights are owned by Compliance Coal.
Compliance Coal continues to assert their product is a metallurgical coal whereas all the analyses indicate it that it is in fact a thermal coal.
Recently, the depressed state of international coal markets has caused Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of coal, to abandon the development of two major coalfield areas which would have produced a coal which would have had far superior coking properties to that of the Raven coal.
The statement that Compliance has spent $15 million dollars to date on environmental studies is of questionable validity.
This figure may represent the total outlay on the property, but to my knowledge most of the $12 million paid by the Japanese and Korean partners for their 40 per cent share was spent on drilling a series of exploratory boreholes.
I am puzzled why Mr. Berkshire feels it necessary to include in his presentation the implied threat to those who might seek to delay the mine that the developers “have very deep pockets and we are not going away.”
Does he fear that the view of Oceanside residents who oppose the mine because of legitimate environmental concerns might indeed prevail?