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Save your aid, Alberta tells Ottawa – just approve Frontier Mine project


February 10, 2020  


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Officials from Alberta insisted the federal government approve the massive Tech Mine oil sands project, rejecting the idea that aid from Ottawa would soften the blow if it were to be quashed.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Canada is preparing a financial package that would help dull the pain if it blocks Teck Resources Ltd’s plan to build the $20.6 billion  Frontier mine that has raised climate and wildlife concerns.

“We’re not looking for a handout from the federal government; we’re looking for the federal government to get out of the way of our province,” Alberta’s Environment Minister Jason Nixon told reporters in Calgary, Alta.

Any economic assistance for Alberta is “separate and distinct” from the Teck decision, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters in Ottawa.

Alberta strongly backs the project on the grounds it would create 7,000 jobs and help revive a struggling provincial energy industry. The federal cabinet must make a decision by the end of this month.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Teck had spent close to $1 billion over a decade as it cleared a series of regulatory hurdles. A rejection now would show global capital markets that major projects could obey all the rules and still fall afoul of what he called an arbitrary political decision, he said.

“I think that would be a devastating message to send in terms of investor confidence at a time when we are struggling to attract foreign direct investment to the Canadian economy,” Kenney told a business audience in Washington, D.C.

Kenney said it would be “hard to overstate” Albertans’ reaction to a possible rejection of the project. Unhappiness with the government’s energy and pipeline policy cost Trudeau’s Liberals all their Alberta seats in October 2019 elections.

Alberta sits on the world’s third-largest proven reserves of crude, but low oil prices and a lack of pipeline capacity are hurting the industry.

Teck president and chief executive Don Lindsay recently questioned whether the mine would ever be built, in part because oil prices were not high enough.

(Reuters)