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Tag: Tent Mountain

Overhead view of Montem Resources plan for Tent Mountain development near Crowsnest Pass.

Tent Mountain coal mine ‘pivots’ to renewable energy

Faced with a changing environmental landscape, a Crowsnest Pass mining operation is looking at shifting gears.

Australian-based Montem Resources, which operated the Tent Mountain open-pit mine, 16 kilometres west of Coleman, is changing its focus and name as it moves into the renewable energy field.

In a presentation to Crowsnest Pass council Sept. 12, president Peter Doyle announced that Montem will now be known as Evolve Power Group and has partnered with TransAlta in the new venture.

“The CEO of TransAlta and I meet regularly. I have no doubt in vouching for their commitment to this project,” said Doyle to council.

“I know you see the significance of this. It’s a billion-dollar investment,” he added.

TransAlta, Doyle continued, brings experience, already operating a hydro-generating plant near Drayton Valley.

The move, though, is a new direction for Montem, which has said it’s in the process of exiting its coal business and ceased all coal development activities.

“Unfortunately, we had to make a pivot, but we’re very proud that we’re able to make the change,” Doyle continued.

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

The new operation will have both an upper and lower reservoir and feature pumped-storage hydroelectric storage or PHES.

According to the PowerPoint presentation, PHES is a closed-loop system of non-fish-bearing water that cycles between the two reservoirs.

While the new Tent Mountain proposal will still need to go through the proper regulatory approval and community engagement, Doyle is confident of its value, not only to Alberta’s power grid, but to the area, as well.

“At its peak during construction, it will provide jobs for close to 200 people, and 30 permanent positions.”

Once built, the project is expected to generate power for a period of 80-plus years to some 400,000 Alberta homes and to eliminate up to 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year into the environment.

And, while not formally in place, Evolve is working toward another partnership with the Blackfoot Confederacy, which includes the Piikani and Siksika nations, of at least a 10 per cent ownership stake.

If approved, construction would begin in 2026 and be completed sometime in 2028.

Mined mountainside with greenery in foreground and blue water pond

‘Winds of change’ bring renewable energy project to Tent Mountain

Peter Doyle, CEO at Montem Resources Ltd., said the company plans to sell half of its stake in the Tent Mountain site to the Calgary-based electricity wholesaler TransAlta Corp. TransAlta will lead the development of a 320-megawatt pumped hydrogen energy storage facility on the mountain.

The Tent Mountain Renewable Energy Complex (TM-REX) will be powered by an off-site wind farm that will feed into a new transmission line, Blain van Melle, TransAlta’s vice-president, told Shootin’ the Breeze in a Feb. 24 video conference with Doyle. The project meanwhile envisions an off-site hydrolyzer that will generate “14,000 tonnes each year of clean, green hydrogen.

“This is the equivalent of displacing 50 million litres of diesel each year, or taking 2,000 heavy trucks off our highways,” Doyle says in a promotional video on Montem’s website. 

Doyle and van Melle declined to specify where the companies might build the wind farm or the hydrolyzer. 

With plans still in the distant offing, Doyle said Montem has been in talks with the Piikani Nation, which he said “has aspirations to build a significant wind farm.” 

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

“Anything that we do on [the wind farm] is most likely going to be in unison with either Piikaani by itself, or the entire Blackfoot confederacy,” he told the Breeze

Van Melle said it’s for the Alberta Electric System Operator, the non-profit company that manages Alberta’s electricity grid, to determine the transmission line’s exact specifications. 

Montem said in a Feb. 17 press release that the project would create about 200 construction jobs and about 30 permanent jobs after TM-REX comes online. 

Doyle said the Tent Mountain mine, unreclaimed since it was abandoned in 1983, had roughly enough capacity to produce one million tonnes of metallurgical coal every year for 13 years, whereas TM-REX will generate emissions-free energy for up to 80 years. 

Peter Loughheed’s Progressive Conservative government halted coal exploration along the eastern Rockies in 1976 because the slopes feed environmentally sensitive headwaters. 

 

Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor

 

The United Conservatives under Premier Jason Kenney announced in the spring of 2020 that they would lift the ban, but quickly reversed course when the initiative provoked strong opposition. 

Doyle said Montem realized “the winds of change were blowing” in 2021, when Ottawa asked for an environmental assessment for the proposed reboot of the Tent Mountain coal mine. The Alberta Energy Regulator then rejected Benga Mines’ (another Australian coal company’s) application to reboot an open-pit mine on nearby Grassy Mountain, stating that the project wasn’t in the public interest.

At that point, Doyle said, “It became increasingly clear that there was too high a risk to continue with the [Tent Mountain] coal mine.” 

The mountain’s coal deposits will be “sterilized,” Doyle said, using an industry term that means the hydrocarbons will stay in-ground. 

Doyle and van Melle said Montem and TransAlta would continue to meet with Pass stakeholders moving forward. 

Doyle said he expects Montem’s shareholders will approve the TM-REX sale in late March or early April.

 

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Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

 

 

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