A proposed coal mine that would create hundreds of jobs but shear off a mountaintop in one of Alberta’s most sensitive environments is to go to a public hearing this week.
Riversdale Resources, proponent of the Grassy Mountain steel-making coal project near the town of Blairmore in the province’s southwest, says the mine would create two decades of solid employment and improve a site scarred by previous development.
Environmental groups and some residents fear it could unleash toxic metals into the headwaters of the Oldman River watershed relied on by everything from endangered trout to downstream cities. They say an approval would open the door to similar large, open-pit mines up and down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
“If we get it wrong, it’s permanent,” said Bobbi Lambright of the Livingstone Landowners Group.She lives about 20 kilometres from Blairmore. “Once the top is blown off the mountain, it’s gone.”
Riversdale says the project would create about 500 jobs during two years of construction and 400 over the 23-year life of the mine. The company says it would pay $1.7 billion in royalties and $35 million in municipal taxes over that time.