Elkford opposing proposed coal mine
District of Elkford council Dec. 11 (2017) passed a motion stating its opposition to the proposed Bingay Main Coal Project (Centermount), noting concern that the proposed location “will impact many environmental, social and recreational values of Elkford residents.”
The decision was not arrived at lightly, said Mayor Dean McKerracher, though a number of factors played into the district’s opposition, including concerns about the Environmental Assessment review process, transportation of coal from the site, potential pollution to local water sources and the Elk River and loss of a popular Blue Lake.
Additionally, the company must get its ducks in a row, McKerracher told the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors Jan. 5.
“On the principle of the whole operation my council chose not to support the project. We support coal mines, absolutely,” he said, but the Bingay project has been on the books for 13 years “and every year they change their mining plan. Until they all get all their stuff in one bag, we won’t support it.”
That said, the district noted in a Dec. 20 letter to Centerpoint Resources Inc. it hopes the company can find a way to resolve its concerns.
“The District of Elkford would like to continue to participate in the process as Centermount works to mitigate impacts on the values mentioned above. We feel together we can work toward solutions to improve your project that will not adversely affect the lives of our residents,” said district chief administrative officer Curtis Helgesen in the Dec. 20 letter.
Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie said following Mayor McKerracher’s update that he also worries about “residual selenium” impacting the district’s water supply from the proposed project.
District of Invermere Mayor and RDEK board director Gerry Taft said he believes “Elkford has some legitimate concerns.”
Centermount Coal and Centerpoint Resources hold five coal licenses totaling 1,802 hectares (ha) near the confluence of Bingay Creek and the Elk River, about 21 km north of Elkford.
Lead image of proposed mine site from Elk Valley Coal
By Ian Cobb/e-KNOW