Tag Archives: coal mining

Conservation groups ask Canadian government to halt proposed mines in Elk Valley drainage

Conditions in the Elk Valley, a little ways to the west, serve as a reminder of why it is so important to fight extractive industry in the transboundary Flathead watershed. . . .

Last week the Canadian government charged Teck Resources with three environmental violations after 74 fish were killed near the mining company’s treatment facility in British Columbia’s Elk Valley north of Montana, elevating concerns over contaminants entering transboundary waterways.

The fish were found dead in late 2014 and an investigation determined they died from nitrite poisoning and low dissolved oxygen levels in the water. The deaths occurred near one of Teck’s open-pit coal mines and treatment facility.

The charges followed an investigation by the company.

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Arch Coal suspends plans for Otter Creek strip mine

Strip mines are pretty nasty and this was going to be a very big one . . .

Arch Coal suspended its application for a major mine in southeastern Montana on Thursday, two months after the mining giant filed for bankruptcy protection and amid broader struggles for the coal industry that have reversed its once-bright prospects in the state.

The St. Louis-based company cited a weak coal market, a shortage of capital and an uncertain permitting outlook in announcing it was suspending the proposed Otter Creek mine.

The move marks a major blow to longstanding efforts to expand mining in the Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border, the nation’s largest coal-producing region. Arch had invested at least $159 million to acquire coal leases in the area.

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CSKT urges bi-national involvement as B.C. coal mining pollutants Increase

The upcoming meeting between President Obama and Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is drawing a lot of attention to transboundary environmental issues . . .

On March 10, President Obama will host a state dinner at the White House for newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the first time such an event has occurred for a Canadian leader in nearly two decades.

The historic gathering between the two liberal leaders could signal a watershed moment for the conservation world, which is on high alert as stakeholders attempt to ensure that a suite of transboundary natural resource measures figure prominently on the menu, including a call by Montana’s largest tribal government to address concerns over mining contaminants in the state’s waterways.

On both sides of the border, the growing wish list of environmental measures is unspooling rapidly.

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B.C. coal mining pollutants increase in Montana watershed

In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .

With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.

The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.

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Canada to exclude Flathead Valley from planned sale of dominion coal blocks

According to our friends north of the border, the Canadian federal government will not be making lands available for coal development within their section of the trans-boundary Flathead River Valley . . .

Flathead Wild, a coalition of conservation groups dedicated to protecting the Flathead Valley in the East Kootenay, welcomes the federal government’s announcement that it will exempt portions of the Dominion Coal Blocks within the Flathead Valley from a planned sale of federal lands. At the same time, the groups remain concerned that inappropriate development of the coal blocks adjacent to the Valley could jeopardize water quality and wildlife populations.

“While details around the planned sale are not yet clear, we are encouraged that the Federal Government has confirmed that portions of the coal blocks overlapping with the Flathead River Watershed will not be included in the sale, and that discussions with the Province are under way to ensure the protection of the entire watershed from development” said John Bergenske, Wildsight.

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Transboundary Flathead still open to coal mining

Just when you think you can put your feet up and relax. The Flathead Campaign reports that the mining ban passed by British Columbia last year protecting the Canadian Flathead from development has a loophole. There are some federal coal blocks technically unaffected by this provincial legislation. The biggest sits right at the headwaters of the whole transboundary Flathead drainage.

Here’s the lead-in. Read the full article for details, including a map of the areas affected . . .

B.C.’s Flathead River Valley is still open to mountain top removal coal mining and coalbed methane development because a federal coal block is not included in a provincial ban on energy and mining development, conservation groups warned today.

“The Flathead is not protected from open pit coal mining after all,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske. “We’re calling on the federal government to make an immediate public commitment to join the ban on Flathead mining and energy development.”

The B.C. mining ban, legislated one year ago in November 2011, has no legal effect over 6,290 hectares of federally owned Dominion Coal Blocks in the headwaters of the Flathead River Valley which are being considered for development.

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Cline sues B.C. over Canadian Flathead mining ban

As mentioned last Wednesday, Cline Mining, the outfit that planned an open pit coal mine in the North Fork headwaters area up in Canada, sued British Columbia over its decision a couple of years ago to ban mining and other extractive industries in the Canadian Flathead. The story has since gotten quite a bit of coverage on both sides of the border. One of the better follow-up articles was just posted by the Missoulian . . .

The decades-long dispute over a proposed mining ban on the northern edge of Glacier National Park flared up this week when a Canadian mining company filed a lawsuit against the Province of British Columbia seeking $500 million in compensation for lost revenue.

In the lawsuit, Cline Mining Corp. alleges that the government of B.C. expropriated three coal properties in the Canadian Flathead Valley by passing the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act, a recent piece of legislation that halted mining on all lands within the Flathead River watershed.

Cline lost its coal claims in the Flathead Valley in southeast B.C. when former Premier Gordon Campbell signed the Flathead Watershed Area Memorandum of Understanding with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, reversing a longstanding land use plan for the Canadian Flathead that gave drilling and mining primacy over all other uses.

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Cline Mining sues BC for $500 million due to lost mining claims in Flathead Valley

Well, now, look who’s in the news again.

Cline Mining, the outfit that wanted to put an open pit coal mine in the North Fork headwaters area up in Canada, is suing the British Columbia government for losses incurred when the province passed the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act.

Read the full article. There are a number of interesting nuggets buried in the later paragraphs . . .

Cline Mining has filed a $500-million lawsuit against the British Columbia government after losing a series of mining claims in the Flathead Valley in southeast B.C.

Cline’s action comes 27 months after the province yielded to pressure from environmentalists and the U.S. government to halt mining activity on the Canadian side of the environmentally sensitive Flathead, which is within Glacier National Park in Montana. The north fork of the Flathead, which has its headwaters in B.C., is part of the U.S. “wild and scenic rivers system” once it crosses from the East Kootenays into Montana.

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Commentary: North Fork deal is a winner

The Daily Inter Lake has nice things to say today about the recently concluded deal to protect the Flathead drainage . . .

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the recently announced commitment of the Nature Conservancy to provide about $9.4 million to seal a deal between Montana and British Columbia that will prevent mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River Basin.

It’s even harder to overstate what a sweet deal it is. Montana businesses, conservation groups and political leaders have been battling mining proposals in the British Columbia Flathead drainage for the last 30 years, never really knowing when the next battle would come.

Now, because of a memorandum of understanding between the province and the state that was announced a year ago, there is a prohibition on mining in the remote and pristine drainage that feeds Montana’s North Fork Flathead River.

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Canadian coverage: Conservation groups put up $9.4-million to save Flathead Valley

Not surprisingly, the Canadian press has also been covering the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead. The Globe and Mail posted an excellent article, including links to related stories and even a photo gallery . . .

Two environmental groups are putting up $9.4-million to help the governments of British Columbia and Montana follow through on an agreement to save the pristine Flathead River Valley in southeastern British Columbia.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. Nature Conservancy are contributing the money to cover costs related to a 2010 agreement between the province and the state. The Flathead is known as the Serengeti of the North for its abundant natural areas, which are home to 16 species of carnivore.

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