Crowsnest Pass’s last coal mine closed in 1983
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. – For many people living in Crowsnest Pass, the proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project presented an opportunity to return to the region’s glory days.
However, a recent review panel found that Benga Mining Limited’s Grassy Mountain Coal project is not in the public interest and dismissed the provincial claims citing environmental concerns such as the impact on the quality of the l water, native trout species and biodiversity in the area.
For the Mayor of Crowsnest Pass, Blair Painter, the report was a shocking disappointment.
“Our community was founded on coal. This is what our community does and it has been doing it from day one,” said Painter.
“Right now there is a great demand for high quality metallurgical coal. It would certainly have given us the opportunity to diversify our tax base.
According to the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce, the majority of businesses in the area are in favor of the project.
“More than 150 companies were directly contacted and interviewed individually. 72% said they would be positively impacted by the mine, 5% said negatively and 13% said not at all, ”said Chamber of Commerce president Sacha Anderson.
This is a divisive subject for many area residents who weighed the economic benefits against the environmental impact of a new coal mine.
Painter said the financial benefits would not only impact business owners, but everyone in the surrounding communities.
“Right now over 80% of our taxes are based on residential taxes and we don’t have an industry,” he said.
“So that would have eased the burden on all of our residents a bit. Unfortunately, how it is today, it will not happen.”
The project would have been carried out in an area previously mined in the 1960s and 1970s, when environmental restrictions were much more lenient.
However, times have changed.
“It was left in not very good environmental conditions,” Painter said.
“[The project] would have given the opportunity to have the next 23 to 25 years of employment for our residents, then when the project was finished, the opportunity to clean it up. “
In a statement, Benga Mining Limited, operating as Riversdale Resources, said:
“The capital expenditure for the proposed project is approximately $ 800 million and approximately 500 jobs would be created during construction and 385 full-time positions on the site at full production.”
However, the review board report stated that “Benga had inflated the number of jobs and tax fees. The review board report said the expected amount of fees was five times greater than n ‘any existing coal mine in Alberta “.
For many Crowsnest Pass residents who fought against the proposed coal development project on Grassy Mountain, Thursday’s review panel report was heartbreaking and moving.
“Every time we talk about it I get goosebumps going up and down my whole body. I’m ecstatic,” said Susan Douglas-Murray, a Coleman resident who has lived in the area for over 20 years. years.
“Pretty much everyone I know feels the same. We’re still trying to absorb the fact that this is most likely going to end.”
The Livingstone Landowners Group has been outspoken on the issue from the start, calling for an end to all mining activity on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.
Group spokesman Bobbi Lambright said that since there are still seven active coal claims, their work is not done, but it is a positive step.
“We are so happy that all of the information that was presented was taken to heart and that the panel recognized that it was definitely the wrong thing to do,” Lambright said.
“What we want at the federal and provincial levels is that slope protection is clearly defined in legislation.
Mount Grassy is said to have had a production capacity of up to 4.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year for about 23 years.
Riversdale Resources said it would consult legal counsel to review options going forward.