MINING THE HEART OF THE CONTINENT – by Randal Macnair ( – February 18, 2021)


The Rocky Mountains are one of the most iconic and biologically significant mountain ranges in the world. Stretching almost 5,000 kilometres from northern British Columbia to the arid reaches of the US Southwest, these spectacular mountains support a vast array of species and provide an essential corridor to maintain genetic diversity for grizzly bears throughout the continent.

Near the geographic centre of the Rockies is the region often referred to as the Crown of the Continent, an ecosystem that straddles international and provincial borders. So significant is this region that part of it has been declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve.

In this heart of the Rockies a story of two divergent approaches to resource extraction is taking place. The players are the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and this story has a twist. The people of Alberta are saying enough is enough while British Columbia is full speed ahead.

The geological forces that created the peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains were at work beneath the mountains as well. Hidden from sight from northern British Columbia and Alberta down through the US states are some of the most highly prized metallurgical coal deposits in the world.
Coal has been mined at an industrial scale in the Crown of the Continent since the late 19th century. First underground and now, for the past 50 years, through massive mountain-top removal mines.

For the rest of this article: