Under Section 89 of the Environmental Management Act of British Columbia, the Minister of Environment issued Ministerial Order No. M113 (“the Order”) in April 2013 requiring Teck Coal Limited to prepare an Area Based Management Plan for the Elk Valley to remediate water quality effects of past coal mining activities and to guide future development. The Order was initiated as a result of evidence of increasing concentrations of selenium, cadmium, nitrate and sulphate in watercourses in the Elk Valley, as well as evidence of calcite formation in some of these watercourses. By addressing water quality effects of mining activities, the Order intends to create a path forward for mining development in the area that ensures the protection of ecological and human health while taking into account socio-economic factors.
Two central process requirements in the Order are public consultation and the establishment of a nine member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to provide science-based technical advice to Teck and to the public during the development of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP). Compass has been hired by Teck to provide independent and neutral facilitation of the TAC process, and is responsible for implementing a process that is responsive to input from TAC members. The analytical work that Teck is undertaking to develop the EVWQP will be guided by a Structured Decision Making approach (SDM), which is a series of steps and a collection of tools and techniques that are helpful for making decisions that seek to achieve a sustainable balance among multiple values. Compass is recognized worldwide for both developing the methods and applying them to the messy, multi-stakeholder world of environmental and resource management, and are excited to be part of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan process.