The Canadian coal industry is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner, and to continuously searching for ways to reduce or eliminate what impact it may have associated with the mining and use of coal.
At the Mine Site
The environment is a fundamental consideration in the production, transportation and use of coal in Canada and the coal industry has initatives that address land use, waste, air and water quality, noise and emissions.
Some of the ways that environmental impacts are reduced:
- mining trucks have increased significantly in size reducing the amount of trips needed to haul coal
- railway cars made of aluminum mean one locomotive can haul more coal using the same amount of fuel
- mining drills include dust collection systems
- air quality and monitoring stations measure air quality on site
Several years before a mine begins operation, planning goes into how the mine can be reclaimed to the same or even better conditions. Environmental impact assessments take place, public consultations are held and thorough reviews are undertaken by regulatory agencies at the provincial and federal level. Mining companies are required to report on their reclamation plan and progress to the government.
More than 75 of the land disturbed by coal mining in Alberta has been reclaimed.
At the Power Plant
The use of any natural resource for energy will have varying degrees of impact on the natural environment. Effective technologies have been developed to tackle environmental challenges, including the release of pollutants – such as sulfer and nitrogen. More recently, the focus has been on developing and deploying technologies to tackle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of coal, including carbon dioxide and methane. More information can be found on the technology page.