Another victory against Big Coal. Tent Mountain will undergo a federal environmental review! 

Another victory against Big Coal. Tent Mountain will undergo a federal environmental review! 

Proposed Coal Projects in Alberta

Locations and Company Profiles for Proposed Coal Mines

On June 16, the federal government announced it will conduct an environmental review of all new coal projects that could have the potential to release the contaminant selenium into the water. As selenium is a by-product of coal mining, this effectively means that all coal development projects will now be subject to a federal assessment.

This decision will apply to the seven projects currently under consideration for the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies.

 

Aries Mine

Location: Clearwater County

Size: 200 sq km

Status: No current exploration activities

Operating company: Ram River Coal Corp.

LOCATION Nordegg, Clearwater County
LAND CATEGORY Category 2
SIZE 20,000 ha (200 square km)
PROJECT STATUS No current exploration activities.
Previously-approved coal exploration permits and a deep-drill permit for the project have both expired, according to the AER. The company has not submitted any applications for exploration or development in three years.
OPERATING COMPANY Ram River Coal Corp.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY? Private
HEADQUARTERS Vancouver, BC
MEMBER OF CAC? Yes
BOARD & MANAGEMENT PROFILE Ram Coal’s Executive Chairman is Adam Lundin, who hails from the billionaire Lundin family. His father, the Swedish-Canadian billionaire miner Lukas Lundin, is the company’s Director (he is also notorious, among other things, for owning a $100-million superyacht!).
SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS
  • Two companies controlled by a Lundin family trust own a combined 25.87% of shares
  • CD Capital, a fund manager and one of the key supporters of the Lundin family, owns 20.26% of shares
  • Liberty Metals & Mining Holdings, a private equity investor and subsidiary of the insurance company Liberty, owns 32.15% of shares. After sustained activist pressure, it recently dropped its plans for a proposed coal mine in Queensland, Australia (which it was the sole owner of).
LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS Corporate profile (from February 2019)
OTHER?

Ram Coal was founded with support from Capital Investment Partners (CIP), an Australian firm that manages and raises capital for new coal mines. The CIP also introduced Riversdale Resources to the Grassy Mountain coal project in 2013.

Months before the Alberta government announced it would rescind the 1976 Coal Policy, the CIP told its investors in early 2019 that the policy change was coming – signaling that the province had been consulting with the mining industry long before it ever consulted the public.

Visualization of the footprint of Ram River Coal Corporation’s Aries Mine along the Ram River (from CPAWS Northern Alberta)

Coal leases held by Ram Coal (from CPAWS Northern Alberta) 

Blackstone

Location: Clearwater County

Size: 145 sq km

Status: Exploration paused

Operating company: Valory Resources

LOCATION

Nordegg, Clearwater County

LAND CATEGORY

Category 2

SIZE

14,500 hectares (145 square km)

PROJECT STATUS

EXPLORATION PAUSED by Alberta government since April 2021

Approved by the AER in January 2020 and expected to start extracting coal by 2023

OPERATING COMPANY

Valory Resources

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Private, but was aiming to get on the Australian stock exchange in early 2021

HEADQUARTERS

Brisbane, Australia

MEMBER OF CAC?

No

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Investor presentation (from February 2020)

Investor presentation (from October 2019)

OTHER?

In a February 2020 presentation to its investors, months before the Coal Policy was rescinded, the company boasted about meeting with key members of the Alberta government and receiving letters of support for the Blackstone project.

The letters suggest that the UCP government backed Valory Resources’ plans for the Eastern Slopes long before it ever made the legislative changes to make them possible.

 

Cabin Ridge

Location: Crowsnest Pass

Size: 50 sq km

Status: Exploration paused

Operating company: Cabin Ridge Project Ltd

LOCATION

50 km north of Coleman

LAND CATEGORY

Category 2

SIZE

5,000 hectares (50 square km)

PROJECT STATUS

EXPLORATION PAUSED by Alberta government since April 2021

Was approved by the AER in October 2020 to undertake an exploration program comprising almost 200 drill sites

OPERATING COMPANY

Cabin Ridge Project Ltd.

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Private

HEADQUARTERS

Calgary

MEMBER OF CAC?

Yes

BOARD & MANAGEMENT PROFILE

The company’s board and management are made up of several directors with extensive experience in other mining companies, particularly Teck and Riversdale Resources, as well as in oil & gas, including Shell and Suncor

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

The company is owned by the Warburton Group, an Australian hedge fund that invests in mining, property, agriculture, and aviation.

The Group formerly owned Benga Mining and is therefore familiar with the Crowsnest Pass area. It also has close to 20 per cent shares in Atrum Coal, a 260 sq km project north of Blairmore, AB, that plunged by more than 70% earlier this year.

Billionaire Tim Roberts, chair of the Warburton Group, ranked 70th in the 2021 Rich List published by Australian Financial Review.

Roberts is infamous for selling luxury private jets to Australia’s rich and famous through his company AVWest Aircraft.

Between 2009 and 2015, AVWest paid more than $3 billion USD — in large upfront payments of cash — to Canadian company Bombardier. AVWest then resold those aircrafts and made more than $200 million USD in profits. But Roberts claims Bombardier has reneged on parts of their deal and has sued the company for $400 million USD in damages.

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Coal Exploration Permit Information Package – March 31, 2021 (PDF)

Chinook Mine

Location: Crowsnest Pass

Size: 100 sq km

Status: Exploration underway

Operating company: Montem Resources Ltd.

LOCATION

The project comprises two areas: Chinook Vicary, which extends 30 km north of Coleman, and Chinook South, which runs for 12 km south of Coleman

LAND CATEGORY

Primarily Category 4; with some leases in Category 1 & 2

SIZE

Approx. 10,000 hectares (100 sq km)

PROJECT STATUS

Exploration underway

Project was approved by AER in June 2020

The company completed a preliminary exploration program in the fall of 2020 and plans to expand on that work in 2021. It anticipates that the drilling phase of the exploration program will conclude in summer 2023 and that its coal sales can commence in 2027.

OPERATING COMPANY

Montem Resources Ltd
(Montem Resources Corp and Montem Resources Alberta are both wholly-owned subsidiaries, incorporated in BC and Alberta, respectively)

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Public, listed on the Australian stock exchange

HEADQUARTERS

Melbourne, Australia

MEMBER OF CAC?

Yes (Montem Resources Corp)

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Regal Funds Management, one of Australia’s top hedge funds, is the largest shareholder, with a 19% stake

The wealthy Flannery family own 11% (through their private company Ilwella). Quentin Flannery believes the area around Crowsnest Pass will be highly sought after by steel manufacturers and “a premier hard coking coal hub in years to come”

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Investor Presentation (from March 2021)

OTHER?

Montem is currently eyeing four additional coal projects in the Eastern Slopes: Tent Mountain, Isola, 4-Stack, and Oldman. Together, the coal leases for all five projects cover more than 177.4 square km.

The Tent Mountain project, currently under provincial review, is the subject of several requests for federal review. The federal government’s decision on that designation is expected by July 1, 2021. The company, meanwhile, is hoping it can begin extracting coal in 2022.

Montem has said it plans to use the cash flow from Tent Mountain to fund the development of its much larger Chinook project.

Elan South & Isolation South Mines

Location: Two projects in Crowsnest Pass

Size: 260 sq km

Status: On hold

Operating company: Atrum Coal

LOCATION

North of Blairmore (Crowsnest Pass)

LAND CATEGORY

Category 2

SIZE

26,000 hectares (260 sq km)

PROJECT STATUS

ON HOLD

Exploration approved in May 2019 (Elan South) and July 2019 (Isolation South)

The company announced in March 2021 that it will halt all major on-site activities, citing the Alberta government’s consultation process. It has continued to meet with local stakeholders (most recently with the High River town council on May 7, 2021), launching a PR campaign in the hopes of swaying coal opponents.   

OPERATING COMPANY

Atrum Coal

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Public (listed on the Australian stock exchange)

HEADQUARTERS

Perth

MEMBER OF CAC?

Yes

BOARD & MANAGEMENT PROFILE

Made up of several directors with extensive experience in other mining operations, including Teck Resources, De Beers, and Glencore

Previously, Atrum’s managing director and CEO was Max Wang, who also served as vice chair of the Coal Association of Canada, the industry’s powerful lobby group. Wang resigned from both jobs in May 2020.

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Atrum coal is 19 percent owned by Australian billionaire Tim Roberts.

Roberts is chair of the Warburton Group, an Australian hedge fund that also wholly owns Cabin Ridge (a 50 sq km project proposed north of Coleman, Alberta).

Roberts ranked 70th in the 2021 Rich List published by Australian Financial Review. He is infamous for selling luxury private jets to Australia’s rich and famous through his company AVWest Aircraft.

Between 2009 and 2015, AVWest paid more than $3 billion USD — in large upfront payments of cash — to Canadian company Bombardier. AVWest then resold those aircrafts and made more than $200 million USD in profits. But Roberts claims Bombardier has reneged on parts of their deal and has sued the company for $400 million USD in damages.

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Quarterly Activities Report (from March 2021)

Annual Report (from December 2020)

OTHER?

Atrum Coal’s shares crashed by more than 70% after the company announced it will be pausing operations at the Elan coal project, its flagship asset.

The company is closely watching the approval process for the adjacent Grassy Mountain mine – currently under review by a joint federal-provincial plan – as the two projects have similar environmental, social, and geological settings.

Atrum has also emphasized the similarities between the two projects to attract more investors. In February 2019, when the mining giant Hancock Prospecting (led by Australia’s top billionaire Gina Rinehart) took over the company overseeing Grassy Mountain, shares for Atrum jumped by 72%. 

Grassy Mountain

Location: Crowsnest Pass

Size: 28 sq km

Status: Denied

Operating company: Benga Mining

LOCATION

North of Blairmore (Crowsnest Pass)

LAND CATEGORY

Category 4

SIZE

2,800 hectares (28 sq kilometres)

PROJECT STATUS

DENIED

On June 17, 2021, a joint federal-provincial review panel denied the operating company’s application, saying its impacts on water, the environment, and Indigenous rights far outweigh any potential economic benefits. The panel denied the project’s permit applications under provincial laws. Without that approval, the project cannot proceed.

The company has said that it will be “consulting with legal counsel to review its options moving forward.”

OPERATING COMPANY

Benga Mining Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Riversdale Resources Limited, which is in turn owned by Hancock Prospecting

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Riversdale Resources is “an unlisted public company”

HEADQUARTERS

Benga Mining Limited—Blairmore, Alberta

Riversdale Resources Limited—Chatsworth, New South Wales, Australia

MEMBER OF CAC?

Yes

BOARD & MANAGEMENT PROFILE

The board of Riversdale Resources is controlled by Hancock Prospecting, a privately-owned ranching and mining empire based in Australia. The Board is comprised of Hancock’s director (Tad Watroba) and CEO (Garry Korte).

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Hancock Prospecting fully owns the shares in Riversdale. It acquired the company in 2019 in a major takeover.

Hancock’s chairperson is the billionaire Gina Rinehart – who has persistently ranked as the richest person in Australia, currently valued at more than $30 billion AUD. She is also Australia’s biggest landholder, controlling 9.2 million hectares.

Rinehart has donated millions of dollars to promote climate change doubt and disinformation.   

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Riversdale Resources Limited Half Year Financial Report Ended December 2018

 

OTHER?

Riversdale Resources’ recent performance in the metallurgical coal industry has been questionable.  Before arriving in Canada, it was operating a hard coking-coal mine in Mozambique, Africa.  It sold this mine to Rio Tinto for $3.7B in 2010.  In 2008, Rio Tinto took a $3B write down on the mine because the coal “was significantly less and lower quality coal than it had assumed.”

Tent Mountain

Location: Crowsnest Pass

Size: 19 sq km

Status: Undergoing review

Operating company: Montem Resources

LOCATION

Crowsnest Pass (26km west of Coleman).  Straddles the border with British Columbia

LAND CATEGORY

Category 4

SIZE

1,931 hectares (19.31 square kilometers)

PROJECT STATUS

Exploration was approved and done.

On June 28th, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson designated Tent Mountain for a federal environmental impact assessment.  The order paper has been issued.

This federal review process is anticipated to last a minimum of 2 years.

OPERATING COMPANY

Montem Resources Ltd

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMPANY?

Public, listed on the Australian stock exchange

HEADQUARTERS

Melbourne, Australia

MEMBER OF CAC?

Yes

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Regal Funds Management, one of Australia’s top hedge funds, is the largest shareholder, with a 19% stake

The wealthy Flannery family own 11% (through their private company Ilwella). Quentin Flannery believes the area around Crowsnest Pass will be highly sought after by steel manufacturers and “a premier hard coking coal hub in years to come”

LINKS TO LATEST REPORTS

Investor Presentation (from March 2021)

 

OTHER?

Montem is currently eyeing four additional coal projects in the Eastern Slopes: Chinook, Isola, 4-Stack, and Oldman. Together, the coal leases for all five projects cover more than 177.4 square km.

Montem has said it plans to use the cash flow from Tent Mountain to fund the development of its much larger Chinook project.