October 17, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Australian billionaire woos Canadians, hoping to construct major coal mine in Rocky Mountains

Australian billionaire woos Canadians, hoping to build big coal mine in Rocky Mountains

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty is hoping a allure offensive, from once-a-year fundraising parties to local refurbishments at a golf training course, will enable conquer opposition to a substantial new coal mine in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.  

Hancock unit Riversdale Resources’ Grassy Mountain mine, which is forecast to develop 4.5 million tonnes of steelmaking coal for each yr, would span 2,800 hectares and could set a precedent for new assignments in the region. Opponents say the undertaking would harm wildlife and drinking water in the place.

In June, the province of Alberta, house to most of Canada’s oil reserves, rolled back again 1970s-era constraints on open-pit coal mining to jumpstart an overall economy hit really hard by the coronavirus pandemic and plunging oil prices.

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Alberta has reshaped a a long time-old balance in the Rockies and Foothills, rescinding its 1976 Coal Enhancement Coverage, opening the door to much more open up-pit mines in the mountains. 4:03

The proposal for Grassy Mountain predates that change. But Alberta’s move is at odds with Liberal Key Minister Justin Trudeau’s hard work to wean the nation from coal and comes as a increasing amount of banking companies, insurers and traders shun the fossil gasoline due to local climate worries.

Public hearings are slated to start off in Oct for the Grassy Mountain, which calls for federal and provincial approvals.

Hancock is amongst a raft of Australian businesses with projects in the region, aiming to ship coking coal from Alberta to Asian marketplaces. Atrum Coal and privately held Montem Means are also pursuing nearby mines and exploration ventures, as is personal developer Cabin Ridge Challenge Ltd.

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The firm has sponsored yearly Australia Working day fundraising bashes, and also opened a recently rebuilt golfing program this month, accompanying eight new holes at the area Crowsnest Go Golf Club. The get the job done assisted crystal clear the way for a coal loadout in close proximity to the system.

Hancock, which took over the organization that owned Grassy Mountain last year, matched cash lifted at this year’s occasion to support a area senior’s association in Crowsnest Move, Alta.

Nonetheless, landowners continue being anxious about drinking water use and habitat destruction in an ecologically delicate mountain corridor renowned for postcard scenery and wildlife.

“I believe 10 decades down the road the drinking water will be polluted to the position that we may perhaps not be in a position to increase crops,” mentioned alfalfa farmer Norm Watmough, 76, whose holiday cabin abuts the mine lease. “It’s likely to wipe out southern Alberta.”

Hancock declined to remark and referred inquiries to filings in which the organization details its plans to address wastewater.

Landowners said they are fearful that selenium from squander rock could leach into nearby waterways. The organization has stated in filings that it options to pump h2o with substantial selenium and nitrate concentrations to saturated zones in pits and construct waste rock dumps at better elevations to lower dangers.

Miners have welcomed Alberta’s transfer to loosen environmental protections to maximize open-pit mining alongside the Rockies’ eastern slopes.

Canada has committed to reduce coal-fired energy by 2030 and past month stated it would evaluate local climate impacts of new thermal coal mines and exports.

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Coking coal is “less of a problem at the present time than thermal coal,” Canadian Atmosphere and Local climate Alter Minister Jonathan Wilkinson reported. “But to the extent that there are significant (job) impacts that can’t be mitigated, then definitely that results in being a whole lot additional demanding.”