This community information site has been established to provide timely and relevant information following a breach of a containment pond at the Obed Mountain Mine.

On April 28, 2014, Westmoreland Coal Company and Sherritt International Corporation concluded a sale transaction that had been planned since early 2013. Westmoreland acquired Sherritt’s coal assets, including Coal Valley Resources Inc. (which is now Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC, the corporate entity that currently owns Obed Mountain Mine).

On October 31, 2013, Obed experienced a breach of a containment pond that led to the release of process water into the nearby river system. Sherritt led the initial response, and – since the closing of the transaction – Westmoreland has been working with consultants, regulators, First Nations, community groups, and other stakeholders on response and remediation activities that aim to return impacted area to pre-incident conditions. While no longer the owner of Obed, Sherritt retains the ultimate responsibility for all commitments and obligations resulting from the incident.

Rehabilitation has been successful to date and will continue under work plans approved by the applicable regulatory authorities. Extensive, multi-year studies have confirmed that there are no lasting impacts to the Athabasca River or its fish populations. Prairie Mines has reviewed and enhanced its policies and procedures with respect to water management and dam inspection to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.

On June 9, 2017, the Provincial Court of Alberta handed down a number of penalties from the federal and provincial crowns relating to the incident. Prairie Mines is pleased that a portion of the funds collected as penalties in this matter will be used to fund various research programs designed to provide future benefits to the environment. Prairie Mines will endeavor to promptly fulfill all court orders in the interest of responsibly concluding the regulatory process, and in fulfilling its commitment of ensuring responsible operations for all Albertans.

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