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Alberta NDP holds meeting over coal exploration in the Rockies

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
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The province's Official Opposition said it's received thousands of letters from Albertans who oppose a plan to explore coal mining in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

The Alberta NDP held a meeting Wednesday night over concerns the United Conservative government has green-lit a proposal for an Australian mining company to check for coal deposits in the Grassy Mountain area.

Northback Holdings, formerly Benga Mining, could drill as many as 50 holes in the area.

The NDP believes the province is hoping no one is paying attention to the controversial plan.

"I think that Albertans are smarter than the UCP gives them credit for," said the NDP's energy and climate critic Kathleen Ganley during the town hall meeting.

During the call, participants spoke about the impact of the project on wildlife corridors and the environment, along with the potential for dangerous elements being left behind.

"I'm thinking that since they (Northback) don't have a way to keep the selenium out of the water, that's also going to be a decades, or centuries-long problem and it's an expensive problem," said one woman participating in the call.

"It's going to be like the orphan wells -- orphan mines -- and there's no way around that."

Ganley said the fact that more than 100 people attended the Zoom call indicated how much Albertans dislike the idea.

The province has not provided any further details on Northback's application.

Last month, country music star Corb Lund called on Albertans to voice their concern with the plan by writing to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), the body tasked with approving or denying the company's application.

He said the deal would leave Alberta with nothing "except for a handful of jobs and a huge clean up bill and ruined water."

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass also spoke out about the proposal at the time, saying it "will not be tolerated by Albertans."

The AER is now reviewing the application in detail before it makes its decision.

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