BC’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project gaining support

Roberts Bank Terminal 2
Image courtesy of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

A key Metro Vancouver mining firm has officially thrown its support behind the controversial Roberts Bank Terminal 2 container facility expansion project in British Columbia, officials said Thursday.

In a release, Surrey-based Lomiko Metals Inc. said the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority project – which would create a brand-new landfill island at Roberts Bank to dramatically increase the port’s container capacity for an anticipated crunch coming in the late 2020s – is “a necessary project based on economic and environmental considerations.”

That, said Lomiko CEO A. Paul Gill, is because the port’s added capacity is needed for Canada to fully participate in the greening of its economy – through the trade of minerals like lithium and graphite that are essential to the creation of lithium-ion batteries (and, thus, electric vehicles).

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority project would create a brand-new landfill island at Roberts Bank to dramatically increase the port’s container capacity

“The opportunity to develop and provide graphite materials supply for the green economy is more viable if Lomiko is able to move products across the supply chain in an efficient manner in the future,” Gill said in the statement released by the company. “… With strong supply chain support, Canadian businesses such as Lomiko Metals will be able to play a key role in new markets for Electric Vehicles and Clean Technology.”

The alternative, Gill said, is for Vancouver and Canada to lose port business to other cities on the West Coast in transporting Canadian goods abroad – which can impact the financial benefits Canadians can reap from the greening of global economies.

“We believe in growing a new green economy”, he added in the statement. “Canada must have key infrastructure in place to participate in this green-growth strategy.”

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 application has been toiling under federal regulatory approval for years, with a federally appointed panel finally announcing earlier this year that the project fits Canada’s orientation as a trading nation.

However, the same panel report also pointed out significant issues about the project’s environmental and social impact, especially with wildlife species such as migrating birds and marine life that are dependent on the Fraser River Estuary for survival.

The project has been opposed by a number of local groups and have since also garnered the opposition of municipal governments both in Richmond and Delta (who cited concerns about traffic and environment degradation among other reasons).

Gill, who is a member of the Surrey Board of Trade’s transportation committee, did note that businesses in his group are “whole-heartedly” supporting the project. He added the revenue created through a new container port facility will be invested in-turn into local communities in the forms of schools, hospitals and first responders.

Approval of the Terminal 2 Project is currently on pause after the federal environment ministry requested additional information on mitigation efforts from the VFPA. The Port Authority said it now plans to submit the new information requested by Ottawa later this year.

Meanwhile, a rival project by GCT Canada – a smaller expansion to the existing Deltaport container terminal at Roberts Bank – just entered official regulatory approval process this year. Officials from GCT said its project could provide the necessary boost to container capacity at Roberts Bank in a more affordable and less environmentally invasive manner.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

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