Rail, Ports & Terminals

An efficient and inter-connected network of rail and port infrastructure is critical to get Canadian coal to market.


Coal was the number one dry bulk commodity transported by rail (36 million tonnes) and handled by ports (approximately 54 million tonnes) in 2011. Canada has two major rail operators, Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) which transport Canadian coal.

  • Canada’s railroads move over 30 million tonnes of coal annually.
  • In 2011, both CN and CP invested almost $3 billion on infrastructure and fleet upgrades. A significant amount of that investment supports coal shipments.
  • Both CN and CP are making major efforts to support the coal industry through increased cooperation and track sharing.

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Ports and Terminals

About 80 % of Canada’s coal exports are shipped through British Columbia mainly because the vast amount (90%) of Canada’s coal deposits are located in western provinces. In 2010, Canadian ports helped facilitate the export of approximately 33 million tonnes of coal, a 22% increase from the year before.

The following ports/terminals handle international and domestic shipments of coal:

Port Metro Vancouver (British Columbia)
Westshore Terminals near Vancouver (British Columbia)
Neptune Terminals near Vancouver (British Columbia)
Ridley Terminals near Prince Rupert (British Columbia)
Port of Thunder Bay (Ontario)
International Coal Pier at Sydney (Nova Scotia) currently only imports coal.

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. This includes the addition of more than 20 million tonnes in coal handling capacity..