Protest kills tar sands mine!

Bison Reprieve for bison and caribou habitat (© Miklos Galata/shutterstock.com)

Feb 26, 2020

A massive tar sands mine project in Canada has been abandoned. The company behind it, Teck Resources, has withdrawn its permit application. The mine project became unfeasible because of resistance against it and the debate about climate protection.

This is a great victory for environmentalists – and above all for nature and the climate. The largest oil sands mine of all time would have polluted, poisoned and destroyed forests, swamps and rivers over an area of 292 square kilometres, threatening the habitat of caribou and bison. In addition, the mine would have put a strain on the climate with more than four million tons of greenhouse gases per year, making Canada’s climate protection targets unattainable. The project is now dead.

In the press release, Teck Resources chief executive Don Lindsay more or less directly blamed the resistance of environmental and climate protectors for the failure of the Frontier Mine. Numerous organizations had put pressure on the project. Among them, Rainforest Rescue had sent a petition with more than 253,000 signatures to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as to several cabinet members and top politicians.

“Frontier (...) has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward”, Lindsay wrote in a letter to Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

While the oil business contributes to the standard of living of Canadians, he said, “at the same time, there is an urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions and support action on climate change.”

Economic reasons may also have played a role in the decision. This is what Lindsay calls the rapidly changing global capital markets. Indeed, banks, insurance companies and other investors are increasingly withdrawing from oil and coal projects.

Teck Resources had also expected an oil price of USD 95; in fact, the price for Canadian low-grade oil is USD 30. Because of the project, which was insane from the start, Teck will have to write off more than a billion dollars.

The mining company announced its decision on a Sunday evening. The following week, Justin Trudeau’s Canadian government was due to decide on the approval. Apparently the project’s fate was hanging in the balance.