Steelmaking coal would be exported to key markets of China and India
In a project that provides a window into the future of Canada’s vast natural resources, a joint federal-provincial panel on Tuesday kicked off a review of an Australian company’s proposal to reopen a part of southwestern Alberta to coal mining after a nearly four-decade absence.
Benga Mining Ltd., a Calgary-based subsidiary of Australia’s Riversdale Resources Ltd., which is itself owned by Perth-based Hancock Company, is looking for approval to build an open-pit steelmaking coal mine near Crowsnest Pass, about a three-hour drive southwest of Calgary.
Although Riversdale is only proposing one mine, known as the Grassy Narrows Coal Project, other companies are also hoping to build mines in the area and approval or rejection of the project could be a bellwether for the fate of other developments.
Already, intense divisions have sprung up as local town residents, who see mining as a boon for the local economy, support it while ranchers, environmentalists and others say it would threaten water supplies and wildlife, including the native westlope cutthroat trout, which is considered at risk.