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ST98

Updated June 2020

Figure S7.1 shows the historical production and forecast for Alberta's marketable coal.

In Summary

In 2019, the total production of marketable coal decreased by 1.5 per cent (see Table S7.1 and Figure S7.1).

As shown in Figure S7.1, subbituminous coal was responsible for the decline in marketable clean coal production for the year because the increase in thermal and metallurgical coal was not sufficient to offset the decline in subbituminous coal. Of all the marketable coal produced in 2019,

  • 66.5 per cent was subbituminous,
  • 19.4 per cent was thermal bituminous, and
  • 14.1 per cent was metallurgical bituminous.

Table S7.1 shows Alberta's marketable coal production.

Subbituminous Coal

In 2019

The majority of coal produced in Alberta is subbituminous coal, accounting for approximately two-thirds of total marketable production. Production of subbituminous coal in 2019 decreased by an estimated 20.1 per cent to 12.7 megatonnes (Mt) compared with 2018.

  • Highvale Mine: Continues to be responsible for most of the decrease in production, declining by 34 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018, from 7.1 Mt to 4.7 Mt. Several coal-fired power stations relying on production from this mine were either retired or trialling co-fired gas generation in 2019.
Forecast for 2020 to 2029

Production of subbituminous coal is expected to decline 93 per cent between 2020 and 2029 as companies transition away from coal-fired power due to legislated retirements by 2030, higher carbon costs, and lower electricity prices.

Metallurgical Bituminous Coal

In 2019

Production of marketable metallurgical bituminous coal, commonly called coking coal, increased in 2019, rising by 80 per cent to 2.7 Mt, due to the restart of Grande Cache.

Production at the following two mines in 2019 were as follows:

  • Grande Cache Coal Mine: This mine came under new ownership and restarted production in August 2018. In 2019, after a full year of operation, it produced 1.3 Mt of marketable coal.
  • Cheviot Mine: Production at Teck Resources Limited's Cheviot mine remained stable in 2019, producing 1.4 Mt of marketable coal.

Thermal Bituminous Coal

In 2019

Production of marketable thermal bituminous coal (steaming coal) increased in 2019, rising by 85 per cent to 3.7 Mt, with Coalspur's Vista mine starting raw production in February.

Production at the following two mines in 2019 were as follows:

  • Vista Coal Mine: Previously approved in 2014 but remained dormant due to weak thermal prices; In 2019, Coalspur's Vista mine started production and produced 1.4 Mt of coal.
  • Coal Valley Mine: Marketable production at Coal Valley remained relatively stable in 2019, increasing by 0.3 Mt to 2.3 Mt.
Forecast for 2020 to 2029

Despite a number of new bituminous mines applying for approvals, the current forecast for total coal production is lower than it has been in previous years. With the accelerated retirement of coal-fired power generators, demand for subbituminous coal will decrease more rapidly and therefore total volumes produced will fall sooner. This decrease is a result of announced retirements of coal-fired power generators and incorporates the Alberta Electric System Operator's forecasted retirement schedule, featured in its most recent 2019 long-term outlook.

A number of projects to extract and export the province's coal are either currently pursuing drilling exploration programs or are going through the regulatory approval process.

Table S7.2 lists the coal mines and marketable coal production.

Figure S7.2 shows the producing surface coal mines and coal-fired power plants in Alberta.

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