Be mindful of the facts about coal

Coal directly and indirectly employs 42,000 people in Canada and contributes $5.2 billion to national GDP.

The direction the Lower Mainland takes regarding the export of natural resources – especially the Fraser Surrey Docks’ proposal – continues to be a source of debate. We must be mindful of the facts about this project and not fall into the trap of heated rhetoric from either side.

These days, we often hear groups declare: “stop thermal coal.” And throughout the ongoing debate, it’s to stop thermal coal from the U.S.

Thermal coal, also known as sub-bituminous coal, is found across the western United States and the Rockies – including in Canada. Coal, whether it’s metallurgical or thermal, serves an important purpose in our global society. From manufacturing the steel for modern transit, to generating the electricity we cook with, all types of coal will remain an important energy source and driver of economic activity.

In fact, coal directly and indirectly employs 42,000 people in Canada and contributes $5.2 billion to national GDP.

Few have asked just how much coal will be coming through Fraser Surrey Docks. According to the World Coal Association, global coal production reached nearly 7.7 billion metric tons in 2011.

To put the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal into perspective, the company is seeking approval for a facility of just four million metric tons of coal per year – just one half of one per cent of annual global production.

In September, Port Metro Vancouver announced new requirements for the project. These include the construction of a facility at the B.C.-U.S. border where trains would be sprayed with a dust suppressant. Locally, Fraser Surrey Docks must complete an environmental impact assessment, agree to not stockpile coal, and find ways to ensure no dust escapes barges during their trip to Texada island.

Coal remains an important fuel for the developing world. Forty per cent of the world’s population relies on coal for electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. And in Canada, coal accounts for nearly 15 per cent of the country’s electricity generation.

By supporting important projects such as the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal, we are able to ensure the long-term viability of a company critical to the local community, and preserve and add to the more than 200 jobs it already supports.


Anita Huberman, CEO

Surrey Board of Trade

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