Teck has proposed a massive 25-square-kilometre expansion of their Fording River coal mine in the upper Elk Valley. The provincial Environmental Assessment for this mountain-top removal coal mine, which would operate for decades, has begun.
If approved, the Castle Mountain mine would destroy critical habitat for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, add significantly more selenium and other dangerous water pollution to the Elk Valley watershed, and lock in decades of high carbon emissions.
Bighorn sheep on the east side of the Elk Valley have already lost more than a quarter of their high-elevation grassland habitat to coal mining. This critical winter range is listed as endangered in British Columbia and bighorn sheep can’t afford to lose any more, but Castle would unavoidably destroy a lot of habitat. Read more about bighorn sheep and Castle Mountain.
The proposed mine would leach selenium pollution into the upper Fording River for thousands of years, adding to already dangerous levels of pollution. Over the last two years, the population of cutthroat trout in the upper Fording River collapsed, with a 90% loss of adult fish and more than 70% of juvenile fish gone. Those fish, and the fish downstream in the Elk River and Lake Koocanusa, can’t take any more selenium or other water pollution—and Teck still has no long-term plan to stop pollution flowing after they stop mining. Read more about the mine expansion, clean water and fish.
The comment period for the first phase of the provincial environmental assessment has ended. But you can still speak up to demand a federal environmental assessment of this huge mine.
Header image by Art Twomey.