Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson makes an announcement in Calgary on July 20, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson makes an announcement in Calgary on July 20, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Company ‘shocked’ by Ottawa’s decision on proposed coal mine in southwestern Alberta

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson rejected Grassy Mountain coal project Friday

The company behind the proposed Grassy Mountain coal project in southwestern Alberta says it is shocked by the federal government’s decision that it cannot proceed.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement in a news release Friday.

He said while mining is important to the economy, coal can include significant adverse environmental effects.

Wilkinson said the decision was based on information that included the findings of a joint review panel report.

Benga Mining Limited says in a statement this week that the minister’s determination was made despite applications being filed with the Court of Appeal of Alberta by the company and two separate First Nations.

The company says its legal counsel wrote to the minister requesting he take no action at this time to allow it to pursue legitimate legal avenues on appeal.

“We are shocked that Canada’s Minister of the Environment should take such a precipitous step before our legal appeal could be heard in court,” Benga CEO John Wallington said in the release.

“By ignoring Benga’s legitimate request that he hold his decision in abeyance whilst the legal appeal process runs its course, the minister has ridden roughshod over the legal rights of Benga, Piikani Nation and Stoney Nakoda Nations.

“The minister’s actions may have far-reaching implications beyond any one project, and sends a strong message to potential investors that Canada’s regulatory regime is uncertain.”

Wilkinson said in the news release last week that the project would have likely caused harm to surface water quality, to species including the threatened westslope cutthroat trout and endangered whitebark pine trees, and to the physical and cultural heritage of the Kainai, Piikani and Siksika First Nations.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

coal mineenergy sector

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