Markets & Economics

As Canada’s 5th most valuable mined commodity, coal mining is an important economic contributor and adds billions of dollars in direct and indirect impacts each year. The industry also benefits Canadians through employment, investment in physical infrastructure, taxes and royalties.

Domestic Markets


Canada consumed 42 million tonnes of coal in 2014 and the majority of this consumption was used for coal-fired electricity.

37
Million Tonnes

Was used for coal-fired electricity generation, mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2016

3.9
Million Tonnes

Is transformed into coke and used in the iron and steel industry each year

2.6
Million Tonnes

Is used for industrial energy and other uses each year

Some provinces rely heavily on coal fired electricity. Cost-effective and reliable coal-fired electricity contributes to a strong economic advantage for Alberta and Saskatchewan because of the abundance of locally sourced coal which is harnessed through a “mine-mouth” operation where coal is removed from the earth and moved to a nearby power generation plant to be converted to electricity.

Amount of electricity produced from coal-fired generation as of 2015

Alberta
51%
Nova Scotia
56%
Saskatchewan
42%

Export Markets


In 2016, Canada exported approximately 30 million tonnes (Mt). The majority of exported coal (28 Mt) is steel-making metallurgical coal destined for Asian countries.

Percentage of total exports in 2016

Asia
64%
Europe and the Middle East
13.3%
US
3%

Employment in Canada’s Coal Industry


Canada’s coal industry employs a highly skilled and diverse workforce that can make significantly higher wages than those employed in other sectors. The coal industry fosters a knowledge-based economy because it requires highly skilled and technical people including engineers, geologists, technologists, etc.

Diverse Workforce

Approximately 42,000 people are directly and indirectly employed by the coal industry.

Growing Salaries

Coal industry salaries are significantly higher than the national average wage. From 2007 to 2015, coal mining salaries have increased by nearly 15%.

Aboriginal Employment

The mining industry is also the largest employer of Aboriginal people in Canada and works with educational institutions and governments to provide training and employment opportunities.

Investment in Physical Infrastructure


Investment in Canada’s physical infrastructure, from power generating plants to railroads and ports is making a positive impact on the coal industry.

$1
Billion

Westshore, Neptune and Ridley Terminal Investments

By early 2013, western-based Westshore, Neptune and Ridley Terminals will see over $1 billion invested in improvements to the efficiency and capacity of their terminals.

$3
Billion

CN and CP Investments

In 2011, both CN and CP invested almost $3 billion on infrastructure and fleet upgrades. A significant amount of that investment supports coal shipments.

Want to learn more about infrastructure investments and mining?