Excepted from Tyee article by Andrew Nikiforuk ,October 9.2020
The Australian Invasion: Big Coal’s Plans for Alberta
Speculators from Down Under aim to carve up the Rockies with a chain of open-pit mines amid growing revolt.
Two Australian billionaires and four coal mining companies with names including Atrum and Montem plan to industrialize nearly 800 square kilometres of the southern Canadian Rockies to supply steel-making coal for Asian and Brazilian markets.
Jason Kenney’s government ,in addition to rescinding the Coal Policy, has sent letters of support to Australian mining speculators offering them less red tape and lower corporate taxes. As well, it has promised speedy permitting. And it has staffed the Alberta Energy Regulator, which will review each coal mining project, with people whose pasts are aligned with resource extracting corporations. One is the self-described “political activist” John Weissenberger, who worked on Jason Kenney’s election campaign.
Coal Association Canada president Robin Campbell lobbied to achieve what Australian mining companies wanted, the killing of Coal Policy restrictions on open-pit mining in sensitive areas of the Rockies. He’d previously served as Alberta’s environment minister
Revolt in Alberta’s ranchlands
The government’s cozy relationship with Aussie coal miners and speculators has alarmed and outraged landowners and ranchers who graze cattle in the eastern slopes, used for that purpose since the turn of the century.
Water scientist David Schindler, a noted professor at the University of Alberta, called the mine proposals short-sighted and foolhardy.
“The best example of why you shouldn’t mine in mountain watersheds comes from Appalachia where mountaintops have been pushed into streams, aquifers have been destroyed and selenium and other toxic trace metals contaminate the watershed.”
He sees a lesson in Alberta’s experience with the oilsands, now losing investors as analysts predict that globally climate change regulations and low prices will render bitumen mining projects “stranded assets” incapable of breaking even.
If the Australian invasion is given free rein, “the coal will not be used for long,” said Schindler, “so again Alberta will be left with stranded assets,” along with a legacy of degraded landscapes.