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Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Provincial applications for Grassy Mountain Coal project denied by Joint Review Panel

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CALGARY, AB – Prospects of the Grassy Mountain Coal project going ahead in the Crowsnest Pass may not be as bright as they once were.

The Joint Review Panel, acting as a hearing panel for the Alberta Energy Regulator, submitted its final report and concluded the Benga Mining Limited project is not in the public interest.

It denied provincial applications after more than five years of behind the scenes work.

President and CEO of the AER Laurie Pushor says “the panel’s decision reflects the AER’s commitment to making evidence-based and risk-informed decisions in the public interest.”

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Benga Mining Limited, an Australian company, was seeking approval to construct and operate a new open-pit metallurgical coal mine just north of Blairmore.

The footprint would have covered 1521 hectares.

Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon issued a joint statement Thursday afternoon in response to the panel’s recommendation to deny the approval of Grassy Mountain.

“The Alberta government respects the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation, which is the result of a rigorous review process carried out by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

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“All proposed coal projects are subject to stringent review to ensure development is safe, environmentally responsible and meets all requirements. In this case, the process worked as it should. The panel’s recommendation demonstrates that Alberta’s legislative and regulatory framework is robust and thoroughly considers environmental impacts as part of any resource development project.

“We acknowledge that the Joint Review Panel determined the project would result in adverse environmental effects on surface water quality – particularly on westslope cutthroat trout and their habitat. We take this concern seriously. Alberta has a long history of responsibly managing our water resources to ensure healthy, secure and sustainable water for our communities, the environment and the economy. Despite falsehoods being perpetuated by some whose intent is to stoke fear and confusion on this matter, our government has not made changes to water protection legislation or water allocations in southern Alberta.

“The protection of our lands and water remains of critical importance as we develop our natural resources. Comprehensive land-use planning supports conservation and environmental protection efforts while ensuring our tourism, agriculture, energy and forestry sectors can be developed in a sustainable way.

“The Government of Alberta is committed to responsible resource development. We are continuing the process of widespread public engagement to inform the province’s long-term approach to coal and will have more to say on water quality management in the days ahead.”

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, will now consider the Joint Review Panel’s report before determining if the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account.

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Tina Karst

A Lethbridge College alumnus, Tina moved back to the community two years after convocation, in September 2007, to become a member of the CJOC News Team. She started as a weekend reporter/anchor and now serves as Associate News Director. When Tina’s not tracking down local news, she’s either busy at home with Jordan and their two kids or creating custom macrame pieces for a growing list of clients.

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