A report detailing how Albertans feel about open-pit coal mining in the Rocky Mountains will be delayed for a month, says the head of the committee preparing the document.
Ron Wallace said the report, the first of two his panel is expected to produce, will now be delivered to Energy Minister Sonya Savage before November 15. That’s the same expiration date as the second report, which will contain recommendations on coal development.
“It was because of the overwhelming response and the need to accommodate that response with additional time that we had to approach the minister with the request for an extension,” Wallace said in an interview Tuesday.
Savage confirmed the move in a post on the committee’s website.
“To ensure that we can devote the necessary attention to the information received, the committee was granted permission from the Minister of Energy to extend the deadline for the participation report to coincide with the deadline for our final report,” the publication said. .
The extension comes as US investigators conclude that North America now has so many steelmaking coal proposals in the works that some mines may not meet profit forecasts, increasing the danger that they will be closed early.
“They promise a lot of job creation,” said Ryan Driskell Tate of Global Energy Monitor, a US-based research group. “There are many promises made early on that are not necessarily kept.”
Wallace’s five-member panel has been investigating in the province what people think about how, or if, coal development should proceed. It was established as a result of a massive public outcry over changes that removed protections for large swaths of the Rocky Mountains and their slopes, resulting in a flood of coal exploration permits being issued in some of the most treasured landscapes in the world. Alberta.
The panel was due to deliver a summary of what it heard in a report to the minister on Friday. But Wallace said he received too much high-quality information to gather anything before mid-November.
With submissions still coming in, Wallace said the panel has received 177 detailed documents from environmental groups, coal companies, municipalities and First Nations. It held 67 meetings and received 1,028 emails.
Most, he said, “strongly opposed” the expansion of the industry.
Coal’s report on Albertans’ views will be delayed for a month, says the panel chair. #Alberta #abpoli #Carbon
“I would characterize the report as a reflection of a huge pent-up demand that the public speak to the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tate said a rise in coal prices has led to 15 steelmaking coal projects in North America that have advanced beyond initial exploration, 11 of them in British Columbia and Alberta.
Tate said that if all those projects are built, the amount of coal exported to China and other Asian countries should more than double.
“They don’t have very obvious consumers,” he said. “Prices are an issue. I’m not even entirely sure they have a stable market.”
Tate said the current rise in prices is due to a diplomatic dispute between China, the world’s largest consumer of steelmaking coal, and Australia, its largest producer. If the differences are resolved and China starts buying Australian coal again, prices could go down, he said.
Climate policies are also expected to reduce demand for steelmaking coal. The report notes that the International Energy Agency says meeting the Paris Agreement targets would likely cut demand in half by 2040.
The outlook for Albertans is risky, Tate said.
“Albertans will depend on other countries’ net zero (carbon) targets.”
Worse, he said, is the risk of immobilized assets: mines that have had an environmental impact but are closed for low profitability before the promised economic benefits materialize.
“This is a volatile market that is undergoing a lot of change,” Tate said.
With a copy of the Tate report, Alberta Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Henshaw said no decisions will be made on coal until Wallace’s panel delivers its recommendations.
“The report will provide valuable information and guidance as we determine next steps to ensure that a modern coal policy is developed,” he said.
The Canadian Coal Association did not respond to a request for comment on the Global Energy Monitor study.
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 19, 2021.