The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently dismissed a claim from Altius Minerals Corp. against both the governments of Canada and Alberta relating to regulatory changes that will force the discontinuation of coal-fired electrical generation from the Genesee and other Alberta power plants by 2030. The lawsuit sought $190 million in damages for actions that Altius said were tantamount to expropriation of its Genesee royalty asset. The suit claimed an unlawful taking of Altius’ property and undue interference with its economic interests.
The defendants filed for dismissal of the Altius claim and on January 4, a master of the court granted the application to dismiss the claim without a trial.
Altius said it believes the decision was in error and incorrectly applies the law on taking and constructive expropriation. It said it is entitled to a full hearing before a justice of the court and intends to appeal the decision.
In 2014, the company invested in the royalty from the coal that underpins the integrated Genesee mine and power plant. This investment decision relied upon policies and regulations enacted in 2012 that permitted the Genesee power plant’s advanced clean burning technologies to continue to generate electricity from coal under a decommissioning schedule that extended to 2055, the company said. However, following this investment, both Alberta and Canada announced policy and regulatory changes that will cause the power plant to discontinue all coal-fired electrical generation, and the payment of underlying coal royalties, by 2030.
“Altius is a small Canadian company that relied upon a clearly defined policy and regulatory framework to make a major investment,” Altius CEO Brian Dalton said. “We then suffered grave damages when these governments changed their policy in a manner that essentially expropriated our future royalty entitlements without compensation.”
He added that compensation is reasonable “ when it becomes the collateral victim of such policy change.”