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UNESCO calls on Canada to minimize impacts of Cheviot Mine

Letters needed

UNESCO, in its Decisions Adopted at the 30th Session of the World Heritage Committee, has again called on Canada to ensure the adverse impacts of the operation of the massive Cheviot open-pit coal mine (located in Alberta adjacent Jasper National Park) are minimized and mitigated.

Please write Canada’s Environment Minister and Fisheries & Oceans Minister (sample letter and addresses at end) asking that no further approvals, including for the current Prospect Creek application, be given until the now years outstanding commitments to compensate for the loss of carnivore habitat (grizzly bears, lynx, etc.) and to implement mitigation measures dealing with the loss of migratory bird habitat and exceedences of water quality guidelines are in place and shown to be effective.

Background

(For pictures, maps & more information http://fanweb.ca/cheviot/)

December 1997, the World Heritage Committee asked Canada and Alberta to work on alternate locations from which to mine steel-making coal, but neither government did, even though the applicant company had and still has alternate mines in western Canada.

The 7,455 ha Cheviot mine, which received its initial approvals in 1998 and opened in 2004, is located in the core of a 461 km2 (247 mi2) wildland rated by the federal and provincial governments as nationally significant. For example, it is digging up the core of the last sizable piece of prime grizzly bear habitat left outside of Jasper National Park. These Critical Wildlife zoned lands are crucial habitat for maintaining the ecological integrity of Jasper, which is a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

The governments haven’t met their written commitments that the loss of prime carnivore habitat would be compensated for through habitat protection elsewhere in the region by February 2003. Reports finally released last March show that the grizzly bear population in the region has collapsed. In 2002 the province estimated there were 147 grizzly bears in west-central Alberta, which includes large parts of Jasper and Banff national parks and the Cheviot mine. That population is now only about 53 bears.

Elk Valley Coal owned by Teck Cominco and Fording Canadian Coal Trust applied this May to the Canadian and Alberta governments for the next phase of the mine -- the next series of huge open pits known as the Prospect Creek development. The governments are presently working on the approvals. That development would dig up the remainder of the very part of the wildland that the national parks’ grizzly bear expert, during the 2000 re-opening hearings on the proposed mine, recommended be excluded from the mine permit. It wasn't.

Sample Letter

Please take a few moments to make your letter effective:

  • Personalize your letter with a few of your own thoughts.
  • Send your letter by fax or mail, which has far more weight with the government than an email.

Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of the Environment
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière

10 Wellington Street
Gatineau, P.Q. K1A 0H3
Fax: (819) 953-3457
Email: Rona [dot] Ambrose [at] ec [dot] gc [dot] ca

Honourable Loyola Hearn
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Parliament Buildings

Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: (613) 995-7858
Email: Min [at] dfo-mpo [dot] gc [dot] ca

Dear Ministers:

RE: UNESCO Decision Regarding the Cheviot Mine and Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site

I am writing to call upon you to heed the request of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. They are asking Canada to ensure that the adverse impacts of the operation of the Cheviot mine on the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site are minimized and mitigated. Please work with your Alberta counterparts to ensure this is accomplished.

Furthermore, please do not issue any more approvals for the sequential mine development, including for the Prospect Creek development applied for this past May, until the now years outstanding commitments to compensate for the loss of carnivore habitat and to implement mitigation measures dealing with the loss of migratory bird habitat and exceedences of water quality guidelines are in place and shown to be effective.

No approval should be issued for mine activity in the Prospect Creek area as the promised compensation through carnivore habitat protection elsewhere in the region has not materialized and provincial reports released this past March indicate a collapse in the region’s grizzly bear population. Mine development there would dig up the remainder of the very part of the wildland that the national parks’ grizzly bear expert, during the 2000 re-opening hearings on the Cheviot mine, recommended be excluded from the mine permit.

I look forward to your reply and prompt action on this very grave matter.

Sincerely,

Your name and return address

 


Thanks for you help at this critical time.

Dianne

Dianne Pachal, Alberta WILD Director
Sierra Club of Canada
Phone/Fax (403) 234-7368 Calgary, AB
http://www.sierraclub.ca/wilderness

Posted September 7, 2006 by russ

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