Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A coal-mining company with exploration leases in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains is trying to figure out how the government’s decision to restore protection of the land will affect its plans.

“I’m not sure specifically or exactly what it means for our business,” said Brad Johnston, chief development officer for Cabin Ridge, a Calgary-based, privately-held company that holds exploration permits granted last fall on coal leases north of Coleman, Alta.

“What has the government actually told us? he asked.

Story continues below advertisement

“When we get more clarity on this, we’ll be able to understand what it is the regulator is saying that we can and can’t do. Right now, I don’t know the answer to that question.”

On Monday, Energy Minister Sonya Savage bowed to intense public pressure and reinstated a policy that has protected the mountains and foothills from surface coal-mining since 1976.

Ms. Savage said exploration permit holders will be able to go ahead with activity such as drill sites and roads. But she also said the province’s energy regulator has been told that “mountaintop removal” is not allowed.

Cabin Ridge is a member of the Coal Association of Canada, which Mr. Johnston said has asked to meet with the government.

“We’ve asked for a meeting with the [Alberta Energy Regulator] to seek clarity on what some of these terms mean,” Mr. Johnston said. “We would like to have a meeting with the policy-makers for the same reason.”

He said he’s not sure his company will go ahead with exploration work for which it already has permits.

“That’s part of our assessment. I would like to think we’re going to proceed. We have a valid permit and we don’t see that we’re doing something that’s not transparent, that’s not heavily regulated.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Johnston said Cabin Ridge was not given a heads-up by the government before the announcement. But he wasn’t entirely surprised.

“It’s an about-face. But in many regards, with the feedback that the government was getting from a variety of stakeholders, perhaps a reset was appropriate.”

The pushback was fierce and came from small-town mayors, the city of Lethbridge, environmentalists, ranchers and country singers. More than 100,000 signatures were collected on petitions.

Mr. Johnston still believes Albertans can be persuaded that there’s a place for surface coal-mining on one of the province’s most-loved landscapes.

“We have a viewpoint that what we do is environmentally responsible,” he said. “What we do can be and is sustainable.”

He says he knows Albertans have questions: “Some of these questions are very legitimate, but that’s something that’s the outcome of the work we’re going to do. The outcome of that work will answer those kinds of questions.”

Story continues below advertisement

He said the company won’t have a preliminary economic assessment until June. It might be two years before Cabin Ridge knows how it wants to proceed.

Until then, Mr. Johnston said, the company is happy to participate in whatever public consultation the government devises.

“It’s fair for people to understand what this means. We want to work with these groups to provide that clarity, to answer questions that are put to us, in a respectful way. These are good things.”

However, clarity begins at home, Mr. Johnston said. A little explanation of what the government has in mind would be useful, he said.

“There’s a reassessment that we have to undertake to try and figure out what [the announcement] means for us. It’s early days.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies