Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkson announced Friday that the Grassy Mountain Coal project in Alberta will not get approval.
“The Government of Canada must make decisions based on the best available scientific evidence while balancing economic and environmental considerations,” Wilkonson said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
“It is in Canada’s best interests to safeguard our waterways for healthy fish populations like the Westslope Cutthroat Trout, respect Indigenous peoples’ culture and way of life, and protect the environment for future generations.”
Benga, an Australian company, was proposing an open-pit coal mine near the Crownest Pass in southwest Alberta. The mine would process 4.5 million tonnes of per year for about 25 years.
A provincial-federal environmental review committee also said the project was likely to cause more harm to the environment than benefit the area economically.
Wilkinson agreed saying, “the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects under CEAA 2012. The Government of Canada has determined those effects are not justified in the circumstances.”
According to the statement, the department concluded the project was likely to cause “adverse effects” to “surface water quality, including from selenium effluent discharge; fish, Whitebark Pine, and physical and cultural heritage of the Kainai, Piikani and Siksika First Nations.”
The release says the government is “particularly concerned with deleterious substances associated with coal mining.”
The Stoney Nakoda Nation, west of Calgary, Alta., has filed a request with the Alberta Court of Appeal to appeal the Alberta panel’s decision that states, “The (panel) did not properly assess the impact that rejecting the project would have on Stoney Nakoda Aboriginal and treaty rights and economic interests.”
Benga Mining and Piikani Nation, nearly 40 km from the proposed site, have also filed an appeal.
The First Nations and the company will have to file a separate appeal of the federal ruling.