Coal Mining in the Oldman River Watershed: What is happening and what are the long-term impacts?

February 11, 2021 - 10:00am

There is significant interest in establishing metallurgical coal mining operations throughout the eastern slopes of Alberta. The areas residing within the Oldman watershed are no exception. Currently, there are four companies exploring potential mining operations in the region. All of the currently proposed coal mines are open-pit “mountain top removal” mines and are located in the Crowsnest Pass area. Coal mining exploration is also happening along the Livingstone Range and in the Bighorn area west of Red Deer.

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced it was rescinding the long-standing provincial Coal Policy, which was implemented by the Peter Lougheed Government in 1976. Since then, Crown coal rights have been sold on land where coal mining was previously not considered, in order to protect the watershed and wildlife. Coal companies are currently building roads and drilling exploratory holes to better understand the value of the coal to their business.

Of the four companies currently exploring the Oldman watershed, the Riversdale/Benga Grassy Mountain Coal Project is furthest along in the approval process. Benga’s Environmental Impact Assessment and Joint Review Panel public hearings are complete. The Oldman Watershed Council (OWC) participated in the public hearings last fall and has been sharing information publicly and with elected officials to support informed decision making. The speaker will detail what is currently happening in the Oldman watershed with regards to coal mines and what the long-term impacts of coal mining are likely to be.

Speaker: Shannon Frank, Executive Director of the Oldman Watershed Council

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Oldman Watershed Council in 2011, Shannon Frank completed her Environmental Science degree at University of Lethbridge. She previously worked for MULTISAR (Multiple Species at Risk) as the Extension Coordinator supporting agricultural producers with habitat restoration projects and leading youth education activities.

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