Coal Mining

Currently the Elk Valley is home to five massive open pit coal mines. These mines produce approximately 25 million tons of processed coal which is primarily used in the production of steel worldwide. The five mines are located to the east of the river in the upper reaches of the Elk Valley centered around Sparwood and Elkford.

© Garth Lenz - iLCP

© Garth Lenz - iLCP - Elk Valley Coal Mining

The land use plan for this region currently states that mining has the highest priority over any other considerations on the land, including protection of riparian areas, old growth forests, wildlife connectivity and recreation opportunities. The provincial government's two zone mining policy was supposed to create 'certainty' for business and ensure that all areas not currently part of a park or protected area are open for energy and mining exploration and extraction.

This unacceptable land use policy has resulted in many new mountain top removal and underground coal mines being proposed across the landscape.

With the latest scientific studies clearly showing that current mining activities are having detrimental effects on the Elk River, including levels of the heavy metal selenium at toxic levels in our waters and fish. Wildsight and many community members are asking the question, "How much is enough?"

Wildsight would like to see a comprehensive long term plan that reconciles the world class wildlife and wilderness values with the metallurgical coal resources.  The plan should protect the human health, international fisheries and water quality values, and wildlife connectivity at the Yellowstone to Yukon scale.  This plan should be based on a comprehensive landscape scale baseline assessment that evaluates, cumulative effects, water assessments, and project specific impact studies.\

Wildsight is also proposing that the the west side of the Elk River valley be designated a Wildlife Management Area with a focus on protecting wildlife and fishery values.