Proposed southern Alberta coal mine could become renewable energy complex instead

One of many Australian firms that had proposed bringing coal mining again to the jap slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains now says it could construct a inexperienced hydrogen facility on the positioning as an alternative.

Montem Sources Ltd. mentioned in a latest investor presentation that it’s engaged on plans to transition its proposed Tent Mountain coal undertaking in Alberta’s Crowsnest Go area to a renewable power complicated. The corporate mentioned it needs to combine wind and hydropower on the web site to supply as much as 13,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a 12 months, which Montem mentioned would make Tent Mountain Canada’s first large-scale inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing facility.

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Montem — which is one in every of a number of coal exploration firms that had proposed new coal mines for Alberta — mentioned it first regarded into the potential for a pumped hydro power storage facility on the Tent Mountain web site in 2019, however meant to finish its initially proposed undertaking (an open-pit coal mine on a beforehand labored coal deposit) first.

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Nevertheless, the corporate mentioned it’s now re-evaluating its resolution. Within the final two years, there was a rush of coal exploration throughout the slopes and foothills of the jap Rockies, however the firms concerned haven’t had a straightforward run, encountering public protests and political and regulatory setbacks alongside the best way.

“As a danger mitigation technique, and to proceed our enterprise right here, we thought we’d have a look at repurposing our belongings right here,” mentioned Montem chief government Peter Doyle in an interview. “We initially wished to do the coal mine and do the pumped hydro on the finish of its life. If we convey (the hydro undertaking) ahead, we’re unlikely to supply the coal in any respect.”

Earlier this 12 months, one other Australian firm, Benga Mining, which, of the coal firms proposing new mines for Alberta, was the farthest alongside within the growth stage, had its Grassy Mountain coal undertaking rejected by a joint federal-provincial evaluation panel. Every week later, Federal Setting Minister Jonathan Wilkinson additionally designated Montem’s Tent Mountain undertaking for federal evaluation, saying it might launch the contaminant selenium, a component generally present in coal-bearing rock that’s poisonous to fish at excessive ranges.

“These two issues, in per week, actually type of pushed us to make some choices on the place we spend our cash,” Doyle mentioned. “We began to essentially closely analyze various issues to do with our belongings at that time.”

Montem continues to work towards federal approval of its Tent Mountain coal undertaking, Doyle mentioned, emphasizing a last resolution on switching to hydrogen has not been made. He mentioned Montem will spend the subsequent 12 months or so finishing a feasibility research on the web site, and is making use of for federal funding to help the work.

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If Montem decides to go forward, the corporate envisions utilizing pumped hydro power storage like a big battery, producing renewable electrical energy for Alberta’s grid on the identical time that it powers the manufacturing of hydrogen for export markets. Doyle mentioned your complete undertaking might take $1-billion of funding and as much as 10 years to rise up and operating.

“It’s thrilling, nevertheless it’s going to take time,” Doyle mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t transition a coal firm to a clear power firm on the flick of a swap.”

Katie Morrison, spokeswoman for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Affiliation, one of many teams that helped to rally anti-coal sentiments in Alberta earlier this 12 months, mentioned if Montem goes forward with its hydrogen plan and formally cancels its software for coal mining at Tent Mountain, it is going to be “a win for the coal struggle in Alberta.”

She added she hopes Alberta’s United Conservative authorities takes word. The federal government is at the moment reviewing its provincial coal coverage, a course of it began in response to public backlash to proposed new mines.

“If the businesses are seeing that writing on the wall ? I believe that’s one thing the Alberta authorities ought to be paying very shut consideration to,” Morrison mentioned. “That is the pattern, that is what Albertans are saying, that they don’t need coal in our Rocky Mountains. And the federal government ought to observe swimsuit with coverage.”

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Montem mentioned it nonetheless plans to pursue its proposed Chinook coal undertaking, which goals to develop beforehand mined areas of the Crowsnest Go to export onerous coking coal for Asian metal markets.

© 2021 The Canadian Press | Proposed southern Alberta coal mine might turn out to be renewable power complicated as an alternative


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