Cheviot mine worries Parks Canada

Parks Canada is worried a proposed coal mine could endanger local grizzly bears and damage the ecosystem of one of its oldest national parks.

The federal department's concerns were made public in a submission to the environmental review panel that is looking into the proposed Cheviot mine project.

It's proposed for the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, on the doorstep of Jasper National Park.

The $250 million open-pit mine would produce coal for export.

Parks Canada says the project has failed to produce the necessary information to assess the proposed mine's impact on the grizzly population. It also paints a bleak picture for the future of coal mining in Alberta.

It predicts that falling prices and low cost alternatives such as natural gas, could force some mine closures.

The Cheviot mine has been controversial. A federal-provincial panel gave it the go-ahead in 1996. Environmentalists took the decision to the federal court which ruled last April the mine needed further study.

The court said the panel failed to take into account the cumulative environmental effects of the huge mine. It ordered the panel to hold more hearings. Those hearings will reconvene next month.