Mining company asking for review of federal decision to kill coal project in Alberta

A map shows the location of the Grassy Mountain Coal project. Source: Government of Canada


Benga Mining Ltd. has filed in Federal Court for judicial review of the Liberal government’s rejection of its Grassy Mountain coal project in Alberta.

The company is also seeking leave to appeal the decision in June of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that turned the project down.

Benga applied to develop an open-pit mine on the eastern slope of the Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta.

But the federal government and provincial body turned down the application in separate decisions earlier this summer after holding a joint review.

There was significant public opposition to the project prior to the decision.

First Nations

Two First Nations in southern Alberta – Piikani and Stoney Nakoda – are also appealing the AER’s decision.

Benga claims the federal rejection was “unlawful, incorrect, unreasonable and/or unconstitutional.”

It said in a release Friday it has applied for an order that quashes or sets aside the Minister’s decision of August 6, 2021, that claimed the project “is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects” and which referred the project to the Cabinet in a referral decision.

Benga is also seeking to quash the Cabinet’s decision that “significant adverse environmental effects” the project “is likely to cause are not justified in the circumstances.”

Federal Court 

Its judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada is being sought on several grounds, including the allegation “it failed to consult or failed to adequately consult” with Indigenous groups.

Benga said the mine, which would cost an estimated $800 million and create approximately 500 jobs during construction, would produce metallurgical coal for the production of steel.

Over the life of the mine, the company said the project would be expected to generate $1.7 billion in provincial and federal income taxes and royalties, and 385 permanent jobs.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected on 16/08/2021 to remove a wrongly identified spokesperson for Benga

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.