Despite booms and busts, the coal industry still has decades of work ahead
The Canadian coal mining industry is in a huge state of flux right now, to say the very least. Policy changes at all levels of government, in addition to a slump in coal prices makes, the coal industry a very challenging place to be right now. While the media decries the “demise of King Coal,” we know differently within the industry.
The Canadian coal industry is not only comprised of mining companies, but of the tens of thousands of miners that live and work in the areas they mine. As I have visited different corners of the country, I am reminded of the deep respect miners have for the places they work and the importance they put on the land.
I can’t say with any certainty when prices will rebound, or what government policy will be moving forward, but it would be short-sighted to think that it will be “business as usual.” As an industry, we must continue to innovate, demonstrating on a near constant basis how invested the coal mining industry is in improving environmental outcomes and reaching (or exceeding) emissions targets. We must also work with our partners in industry and government to ensure that any policy put forward takes into account the full scope of impact on communities.
The coal mining industry has a lot to offer the mining community globally. The industrial advancements made here can provide a significant economic and environmental benefit overseas to industrializing nations. From mining through to energy production, there continues to be a place for coal in our economy at home and abroad. Canadian coal is among the best thermal and met coal produced in the world, and it is produced ethically in Canada, under strict environmental and labour regulations.
The coal mining industry has provided an excellent living for thousands of Canadian families, including my own. I am optimistic that the industry has decades of work ahead, but it’s going to need persistence and innovation (two things we have in abundant supply in this field) to keep it relevant in the changing energy economy. There will be booms and there will be busts, but the need for a safe, reliable, affordable and locally produced energy source will always be there. How our industry chooses to meet that challenge will be one of the most interesting things to watch.
*Robin Campbell is president of the Coal Association of Canada.