Northback, formerly known as Benga Mining, has applied through the Alberta Energy Regulator for exploration, drilling and water diversion licensing, which would be used just north of the Crowsnest Pass.
Northback, formerly known as Benga Mining, appears to be attempting to resurrect the Grassy Mountain project, a proposed coal mine rejected by the provincial and federal governments.
The company has applied through the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for exploration, drilling and water diversion licensing, which would be used just north of the Crowsnest Pass.
Opponents of the project were outraged to see its potential return.
“That was really concerning for a couple of reasons. First of all, because we don’t think coal is an appropriate use of that area.
Albertans have been very clear they don’t want to see new coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rockies,” said Katie Morrison, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s southern Alberta chapter.
A ministerial order is currently in place preventing any new coal development in the region.
The pause on new development came from a coal committee’s recommendations to protect fish and water quality.
Some members of that committee are concerned the AER even accepted the application.
“The water that the coal mines need to mine coal, but also the implications of what goes into the water and then what comes downstream are really, really scary. That’s pretty much why the original proposal for that mine got shut down,” committee member Bill Trafford said.
The application is considered an advanced coal project according to the AER, which is allowed under the ministerial order.
Trafford doesn’t see how a project that’s already been rejected meets that benchmark.
“Haven’t we done this before? Didn’t we do this? Didn’t we deal with this? I don’t know, it’s like, ‘Why is this starting up again?’” he said.
Energy and Minerals Minister Brian Jean was not available for comment, but a statement from his office provided an update on that project.
“Alberta’s government is keeping strong restrictions in place on coal mining. The application for these exploration drilling activities is being reviewed by the AER. An application does not necessarily mean it will be approved,” the statement read.
CTV News reached out to Northback but did not receive a comment.
The application could take weeks to be approved or denied by the AER.
If Northback decided to develop the site, another application would be required.