British Columbia

For the first time ever, a coal mine with carbon caps has been approved by Canadian government

The Murry River Mining Project in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., will be allowed to proceed with plans to dig up coal but only so long as it limits its greenhouse gas emissions.

Mining project in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., will have to limit greenhouse gas production in order to proceed

The Murray River coal project would be an underground mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C. (HD Mining)

For the first time ever, a coal mine in Canada will have a cap on carbon emissions.

On Dec. 13, the federal government approved the Murray River Mining Project near Tumbler Ridge, in northeast B.C.

The project — by HD Mining International — will operate underground to mine metallurgical coal, known as coking coal, used to produce steel.

Among the 104 environmental conditions HD will have to adhere to is a cap on methane emissions, which will be limited to the equivalent of 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

HD would also have to work with local First Nations to protect caribou herds in the region.

In announcing the approval, the Government of Canada said the conditions were an environmentally-friendly approach to growing the economy.

Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson welcomed the news, saying his community was still recovering from the shutdown of every mine in the area in 2014 and 2015, putting hundreds of people out of work.

Tumbler Ridge was created as a mining town in 1981. (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency)

"Tumbler Ridge was built to service two mines, so when the mines aren't working there isn't much to do," he said.

Some mining jobs came back in 2016, but McPherson said adding HD to the mix would be a further boost.

"It's a nice place to live, but it's a great place to work when the mines are working."

Past controversy

The Murray River mine attracted controversy in 2012 when B.C. unions challenged HD Mining's use of temporary foreign workers from China over local labour, which the company said was necessary because of the lack of Canadians trained in the work needed.

In 2013, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the decision to allow the temporary foreign mine workers into B.C., saying the assessment was not unreasonable.

Should HD wish to continue with the underground mining project at Murray River, they will have to obtain further permits from the province and local government.

With files from the Canadian Press