Five coal companies are suing the Canadian province of Alberta for a total C$10.8 billion ($8bn), claiming the provincial government’s coal policy reforms cost them billions in lost investment and potential revenues, The Globe and Mail reported.
Related to the case, the government and the Alberta Energy Regulator are facing questions about why an Australian company was allowed to apply for exploration licences to pursue a potential coal mine at Grassy Mountain, when a joint federal-provincial regulatory panel rejected an application for the same site in 2021.
The province said last year it is expanding restrictions on all new coal exploration and development activities on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains until it finalizes new land use policies.
Northback Holdings Corp., formerly Benga Mining Ltd., is a subsidiary of Australian mining giant Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart. It still sees opportunity for a potential mine at Grassy Mountain, submitting applications in November to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for a 105-day exploratory drilling program and a request for a water diversion.
Grassy Mountain is on the site of an old mine that closed about 50 years ago. The new, open-pit mine that Benga proposed for the land forecast production of 93 million tonnes of metallurgical coal over a 23-year life.
The government had been planning to revoke that policy and open up the eastern slopes of the Rockies to open-pit mines, but reversed course last year after a huge backlash from ranchers and other Albertans concerned about the environmental impact.
The claims are laid out in four separate submissions to Alberta’s Court of King’s Bench by Cabin Ridge Project Ltd., Atrum Coal Ltd. and its subsidiary Elan Coal Ltd., Black Eagle Mining Corp. and Montem Resources Ltd., The Globe and Mail reported.
All were pursuing mines for metallurgical coal. The case is slated for trial early next year.