“Accordingly, this position will inform federal decision making on thermal coal mining projects,” the government said
Canada produced 57 million metric tons of coal in 2019, of which less than half — 47% — is thermal coal used to generate electricity, with the remainder being metallurgical coal used for steel-making. Coal-fired electricity supplies less than 10% of the country’s needs and the government has previously said it will be phased out entirely by 2030. Ninety-five percent of Canada’s 2019 coal exports were metallurgical coal.
A much larger source of carbon emissions comes from the country’s oil sands production, which requires vast amounts of energy to extract bitumen from open-pit mines.
Earlier this week, Canada’s top oil sands producers announced they will build out carbon-capture infrastructure to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The plan covers direct emissions from the companies’ operations and indirect emissions from utilities selling them power, but not the emissions created when the fuel is actually burned.
Trudeau has pledged that Canada will reduce its emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.
“Today’s policy announcement provides clarity and regulatory certainty for industry, investors and Canadians. It represents another critical step in our shared path to a cleaner and more prosperous future, and places Canada among the first G-7 countries to adopt such a policy,” the government said in the statement.
Although Alberta, the country’s energy heartland, has been phasing out coal-fired generation for years, the western province is still a major coal producer and exporter.
The government said its decision applies to a proposed expansion of the Vista Coal Mine near Hinton, Alberta, which is operated by Australian mining company Coalspur Mines Ltd.