The Canadian government on Friday announced its thermal coal mining policy, which will make it harder for new thermal coal mining and expansion projects to be approved.
The government considers that any new thermal coal mining projects, or expansions of existing thermal coal mines in Canada, are likely to cause “unacceptable environmental effects” and this position will inform federal decision-making on thermal coal mining.
“New thermal coal mining projects or expansions are not in line with the ambition Canadians want to see on climate, or with Canada’s domestic and international climate commitments,” Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.
In parallel with the announcement, Wilkinson has informed thermal coal miner Coalspur Mines that the policy also applied to the consideration of its proposed thermal coal mine expansions at the Vista mine, near Hinton, Alberta.
In a notice addressed to Coalspur Mines VP of Engineering, Simon Stepp, Wilkinson said that it was “clear” that the Phase 1 Vista test underground mine and Vista mine Phase 2 expansion projects “would cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction”.
Wilkinson’s opinion on the projects did not prevent them from being assessed under the Impact Assessment Act.
“Should the projects proceed through the assessment process, the government of Canada will continue to consider all relevant information about the extent to which the projects contribute to sustainability, and the extent to which the effects of the projects hinder or contribute to the government of Canada's ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change,” the Minister said.
The coal policy announcement comes as G7 leaders met in the UK to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, including climate change. Canada notes that the global phase-out of emissions from coal power is the most important initial step towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals.
It is Canada’s position that the continued mining and use of coal for energy production anywhere in the world is not environmentally sustainable and that it runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change.