MAC: Mines and Communities

2nd Canadian Mining Company Gets Permit To Drill Near Glacier

Published by MAC on 2006-04-24
Source: The Associated Press

2nd Canadian mining company gets permit to drill near Glacier

By The Associated Press

24th April 2006

KALISPELL -- A second coal mining company has received permission to explore for coal in an area near Glacier National Park, just north of the Canadian border.

The permit approval already has some south of the border worried about potential effects to water quality in the Flathead River Basin.

"That particular one is completely ludicrous, because it's right in the floodplain of the river," said Jack Stanford, a research scientist who for years has studied and monitored lake and river waters in Montana's Flathead Valley.

Rich Moy, chief of Montana's Water Management Bureau and chairman of the Flathead Basin Commission, said British Columbia officials announced at a recent commission meeting that they had approved the permit for Moose Mountain Member Corp. in what is known as the Lillyburt coal field. "We were told not to worry, that it's no big deal," Moy said.

"It's quite minimal," said Kathy Eichenberger, provincial liaison to the commission. The permit is good from July through October, she said, and allows the mining company to drill 13 holes, removing an unspecified amount of coal for further testing.

The Lillyburt coal field is just east of Foisey Creek, where Toronto-based Cline Mining Corp. has completed exploration and now is requesting a full mining permit. That proposal remains under review.

The Lillyburt field is in the headwaters of Canada's Flathead River Valley, a remote drainage directly north of Glacier Park. The Flathead flows south, crossing the international border and forming the western boundary of the park in Montana.

Eichenberger said the permit for exploration work on the Lillyburt field did not require public review, because the 13-hole project is so "minimal."

Existing but largely out-of-service roads could be upgraded to access the site, she said, and no logging would be necessary.

But Moy said despite the assurances, he's not convinced.

"My concern is, we heard this same thing with Cline's exploratory permit, and in less than a year they were moving forward with the operational process," he said. "That scares me."

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