Posted on Jul 5, 2021


EDMONTON - New documents show that Benga Mining is still proceeding with work on the Grassy Mountain coal mine despite the project’s rejection by the Joint Review Panel, and Alberta’s NDP Opposition is calling on the UCP government to clearly tell Albertans their intentions for the mine.


On June 30, Benga was given permission by the Alberta Energy Regulatory to divert 1,000 cubic metres of water from an Alberta lake to use for drilling fluid and dust suppression for exploratory boreholes in connection to Grassy Mountain. The two water diversion licences were issued less than two weeks after the Joint Review Panel concluded that the entire Grassy Mountain coal mine project is not in the public interest. 


While the volumes of water are not huge, AER documents say the work will trigger consultation with Indigenous communities and a sensitive species survey.


“Why is Benga continuing to invest in this project, continuing to take water out of an Alberta lake, and continuing to drill exploratory holes looking for coal?” asked Marlin Schmidt, NDP Critic for Environment and Parks. “These are the questions I am putting to the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment and Parks.


“Minister Savage and Minister Nixon say that they respect the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel, which was to reject Grassy Mountain due to its impacts on water quality. But when we see Benga Mining continuing to advance this project, it’s reasonable for Albertans to ask why Benga still believes there’s a path forward.”


Despite overwhelming opposition from a diverse coalition of Albertans, the Kenney government continues to work towards a new “coal policy” for Alberta.


“Albertans don’t want new coal mines in the Eastern Slopes, and they have said so very clearly and in large numbers,” Schmidt said. “Our caucus has brought forward the Eastern Slopes Protection Act, which would halt all coal activity in category 1 and 2 lands and halt work in category 3 and 4 lands subject to an extremely vigorous regional plan informed by thorough consultation with Albertans.


“I’m calling on the UCP to make a clear statement to Albertans about whether they expect the Grassy Mountain Coal Mine project to proceed or not.”