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Canada to take a strategic assessment of thermal coal

Don Horne   


Ottawa has announced a strategic assessment to provide guidance on how future new thermal coal mine projects will be assessed under the Impact Assessment Act.

“An important pillar of the Government of Canada’s plan to fight climate change is phasing out traditional coal power generation, while ensuring a just and fair transition for workers and communities,” says Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “With the phase out of coal power, it is important to consider the future of thermal coal mining. This Strategic Assessment is the tool included in the Impact Assessment Act to do this.”

Coal-fired electricity has significant adverse environmental and health impacts, with around 40 per cent of the world’s electricity comes from burning coal (as well as 10 per cent of Canada’s). That is why the United Nations Secretary General has called for no new coal plants by 2020, and why Canada is phasing out traditional coal-fired power by 2030.

The strategic assessment will include, but not be limited to:

  • Environmental and health impacts of thermal coal mining;
  • Market analysis of projected demand for thermal coal, including economic impacts and impact on jobs in Canada; and
  • The use of thermal coal mining, including its impact on Canada’s international commitments and initiatives.

The Coalspur Vista Coal Mine Phase II Project — located in Hinton, Alta. — is undergoing an environmental assessment by the Province of Alberta. This project will not be designated for federal review under the Impact Assessment Act because it will be covered under the Provincial environmental assessment process, and the issues of Federal jurisdiction will be covered through other regulatory processes. If the project proceeds, it will be subject to all applicable federal regulations.

Draft terms of reference for the strategic assessment of thermal coal mining will be available online for public comments early in 2020.



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