B.C. gives thumbs up to Rio Tinto wharf expansion in Kitimat

A planned expansion of a terminal in Kitimat owned by Rio Tinto has been given a go by the regulator.

The provincial government has given their thumbs up to an application from Rio Tinto to extend their Terminal A.

The company had been seeking the approval due to an agreement Rio Tinto has with LNG Canada for their use of Rio Tinto’s Terminal B (Eurocan’s former wharf), which means capacity has to be built up in Terminal A for the smelter’s operations.

That said, Rio Tinto spokesperson Kevin Dobbin says they’ll wait until LNG Canada proceeds before advancing the terminal project.

“While this is an important milestone, Rio Tinto would only advance to construction of the proposed Terminal A Extension Project should the LNG Canada project proceed,” he said.

The province gave their nod on Monday, December 21, issuing an environmental assessment certificate which includes 12 conditions.

Among those conditions are:  avoid or mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat; monitor marine water quality from dredging and take action if thresholds are reached; monitor marine mammals during pile driving and take action to prevent injury to marine mammals; manage and monitor the dredge disposal site, including adaptive management measures in the event that the effects of contaminants are not mitigated to the extent predicted; retain the services of an environmental monitor throughout the construction phase, with the authority to stop work if necessary to prevent or reduce adverse effects; and implement measures to protect marine mammals during construction.

Extending the terminal will mean adding 250 metres to the facility to accommodate bulk carriers.

The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office.

The ministers have issued the certificate with legally enforceable conditions that have given them the confidence to conclude that the project will be constructed and operated in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur from the project, says a news release from the province.

B.C. also noted in their release that the environmental assessment is not the only approval the project would need.

“The proposed Terminal A Extension project requires various other federal and provincial authorizations, such as a dredge disposal permit and a disposal at sea permit.  Rio Tinto is committed to continuing to work with the Haisla Nation, community stakeholders and regulators to advance plans to obtain these authorizations,” said Dobbin.

Overall though Rio Tinto is pleased with the community input on this project, he said.

“The positive outcome would not have been possible without the involvement from the Haisla Nation, the community of Kitimat, and other stakeholders who took the time to participate in the review and share their important views.”