Conservation Groups Call On Federal Government and Teachers to Act Quickly Over Cheviot Coal Mine

For Immediate Release - April 13, 2004

(Ottawa) Sierra Club of Canada (SCC) and MiningWatch Canada have launched a three-pronged campaign of action to stop the massive and highly controversial Cheviot open-pit coal mine. Spanning a width equivalent to that of Alberta's capitol, Edmonton, Cheviot would strip the heart out of a nationally significant wildland, located adjacent to Jasper National Park.

In a joint letter with Canada's major conservation organizations, and local and provincial groups, SCC and MiningWatch have asked the federal ministers of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans to immediately initiate a full review, including hearings, on the new mine project. The mine for the export of metallurgical coal was announced by the Fording Canadian Coal Trust (CCT) this past March 16th. It has since been learned that construction of the haulroad for the mine was underway prior to that announcement, despite there being no federal authorizations for the mine.

The campaign is also focusing on the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, part owners of Cheviot, and is supporting an appeal of the permits issued by the Alberta Environment Department. Major owners of Fording CTT are the Ontario Teachers Pension PlanTeck Cominco, along with the former shareholders of Calgary-based Fording Inc. (OTPP) and Vancouver based

"This mine will be an ecological nightmare," said SCC's Alberta Wilderness Director Dianne Pachal. 'With the shape of a giant 'L' paralleling the east boundary of Jasper National Park, their Cheviot mine would be perched astride the continental divide between the waterways of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, on provincially designated critical wildlife habitat."

As documented by Parks Canada, its impacts include harming the ecological integrity of Jasper, which together with Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks were designated by the United Nations' UNESCO program as a World Heritage Site in 1972. The proposed mine area is prime habitat for grizzly bears, which also roam through the national park.

"As we speak, huge bulldozers and dump-trucks are constructing the major coal haulroad, without any of the required federal authorizations in place for the mine," said Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. "Now, it's up to Paul Martin's government and the Ontario teachers to act. Will we trade jewels like Jasper and Mountain Park for a lump of coal?"

Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada points out, "This new project, while requiring a larger area of public land for the mine and potentially causing more environmental damage, will only create one-quarter of the jobs promised earlier and produce one-half as much coal."

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Contact: Elizabeth May, Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada (613) 241-4611

Dianne Pachel, Alberta Wilderness Director (403) 234-7368
Joan Kuyek, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569-3439