Last week, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada announced that a public hearing will be held later this year regarding the Grassy Mountain Coal Project.
About the project
The project, if approved, would result in an open-pit coal mine on top of Grassy Mountain, about 7 kilometres north of Blairmore in the Crownsest Pass. Although the mine site will be about 2,800 hectares in size, the proposed mine permit boundary is 6,121 hectares.
Benga Mining Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Australia-based Riversdale Resources Limited, anticipates that there’s enough metallurgical coal—which is used in the steelmaking process—in the mining area for workers to extract about 4.5 million tonnes every year for about 23 years, except for the last decade or so, when annual production would drop to 3.8 million tonnes.
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Once mined and processed, coal will be transported by train to the West Coast, where it will be shipped to Asia.
In addition to the surface coal mine pits, the project area would include waste rock disposal areas, a coal handling and processing plant with associated infrastructure, water management structures, an overland conveyor system, end pit lakes, and a rail load-out facility. Access and haul roads would must also be constructed.
As part of the application process, Benga Mining has filed 3 applications to divert water for the project.
First, they applied to temporarily transfer 250,400 m3 of water under a license to divert water from York Creek. The license is currently held by the Municipality of Crownest Pass for urban water supply. Benga would use it for coal washing and general mine operation.
Second, they applied to permanently transfer 123,348 m3 of water under a license to divert water from Crowsnest River. The license is currently held by the Devon Corporation for industrial usage, and the usage would remain industrial.
The third application is to divert 185,022 m3 of surface runoff and seepage every year. Assuming that’s every year for the 24-year life of the project, that’s nearly 3 million cubic metres of water in total, or about 3 billion litres worth. Normally, any surface runoff or seepage not diverted or collected would flow to Blairmore Creek or Gold Creek, both of which help supply the Crownest River.
A joint review panel established to review the project expects the public hearing will occur in October 2020. The panel has already invited the following parties to participate (assuming they meet the appropriate requirements):
- Káínai Nation
- Ktunaxa Nation
- Métis Nation of Alberta – Region 3
- Piikani Nation
- Samson Cree Nation
- Siksika Nation
- Stoney Nakoda Nation
- Tsuut’ina Nation
- Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society — Southern Alberta Chapter
- Coalition of Alberta Wilderness Association and Grassy Mountain Group
- Livingstone Landowners Group
- Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
Others wishing to participate in the public hearing should submit a request to participate by 20 July 2020. Details are found here.