20140424-074048.jpg Amongst other big announcements yesterday ( 😉 ) there was one from the company that has been proposing to ship coal through Port Alberni for a good chunk of the last decade.

Compliance Energy Corporation, parent company of Compliance Coal Corporation, and chief proponent of the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine near Buckley Bay released its annual report yesterday. It wasn’t pretty.

They posted record losses. They are now $600,000 in debt, and one of their 2 partners, ITOCHU, has officially pulled out of the joint venture leaving only Compliance and LG industries to try to continue the project.

Their auditors again indicated “existence of a material uncertainty that
may cast significant doubt about Compliance Energy Corporation’s
ability to continue as a going concern.”

This coal mine has been simmering on the back burner in Port Alberni ever since the company’s application was halted by the BC Government Environmental Assessment office for being inadequate.

Image from watershedsentinal.ca
Image from watershedsentinal.ca
City Council here was, I believe, in the minority of Councils affected by the mine that did *not* express serious concerns about the mine and the environmental effects. They instead had promised a full public forum to discuss the mine once the application was made public and then would have considered what to do after.

I believe Council could have easily done both, express their concerns, as other councils and regional districts did, while also reserving final judgement (symbolic as it may have been) until after a full review of the application could be done. There were major concerns brought up about water quality issues near the mine and Buckley Bay, transportation by 60 trucks a day 24/7/365 over Highway 4 and city streets, and effects in the Harbour and Inlet.

So does this signal the end of the coal issue for Port Alberni? I very much doubt it.

While the coal market right now is very soft, leading to layoffs by the big companies like Walter Energy, there is always the possibility that prices will recover. Raven’s operations needed around $170/tonne to be profitable. Current prices are nearer $100/tonne.

Even if Compliance folds, its assets and the work it has done will more than likely be passed to some other company. Perhaps LG industries, which is a massive multi-national and diversified company, would take it on. Or perhaps it would be bought for cheap by another startup and the process started again.

Whatever happens, my position will remain the same. Coal is the #1 cause of CO2 emissions. Thermal coal, for which the Raven deposits are best suited, is the #1 energy we must move away from in order to combat climate change. If it got shoved down our throats I would demand that it be transported here by rail to minimize impact on highway travellers and city street maintenance.

But jobs from coal mines are not where we should be looking for growth and are far from the only place to look. We can, and we must do different and better and that’s what I would try to do as councillor.

Did you know that Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass (like District Energy), Nuclear and conventional Hydro are all near or cheaper than Coal to produce energy? And they are all zero carbon emissions.

Check out the ‘total system levelized cost’ table here. Anyone who says we are stuck with coal is stuck in the past.

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