This report will sum up the ideaof how the coal industry benefits Canada’s economy and how it is notsustainable for future. Coal is a fossil fuel from which energy can beobtained. Coal is a black sedimentary rock.
It wasformed 300 to 360 million years ago during the carboniferous period from theremains of trees and plants. When plants were dead they did not decay becauseof low oxygen levels in the swampy area. Over millions of years, the weight ofthe sediments compressed the organic matter which turned it into coal. Anthracite,Bituminous and Lignite are 3 main types of coals. Anthracite coal is formedunder great pressure. It is shiny, hard and rich in carbon.
Anthracite is usedfor commercial and residential heating but is not used commonly today.Bituminous coal is formed under less pressure than anthracite. It is used asfuel for generating electricity and for commercial and residential heating.
Lignitewas formed near the surface of the earth. It is soft, inexpensive and filledwith impurities and is also called brown coal. Lignite is used entirely as fuelin generating electricity. Coal deposits are primarily located in Alberta,Saskatchewan and British Colombia. There are twenty-four coal mines along theprairies and British Colombia but only nineteen of them are currently operating.There are many coal mines but are spread out all across Canada.
Coalindustry is important to Canada’s economy because it contributes to Canada’sGDP and also that it is Canada’s 3rd biggest energy supplier. Thecoal industry is the biggest industry to generate electricity and fuel in thewhole world including Canada. Canada is a developed country and has developed agreat economy because of exports like coal and oil and has become a stable anda prosperous nation. Coal mining is really important to Canada’s economy as itcontributed and still contributes to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 1Canada’sGDP from 2016 is 1.53 trillion dollars. 2Coalmining has contributed about 5.2 million dollars towards Canada’s GDP in 2011by exporting large amounts of coal.
Canada has always been active throughoutthe business networks and still is. Because of the need of coal, Canada hasbeen an active exporter of coal to different countries such as India and China. This sudden need of coal in thesecountries can tell us that the population growth has led to a rapid economicgrowth in these two countries. This is the first reason why The second reason that the coal industry isimportant to Canada’s economy is that it is Canada’s biggest energy supplier.
Canadais dependent on coal for heating and electricity generation. Heating is reallyuseful and important because of the harsh climate Canada has. Canada needsfifty-fifty both lignite and bituminous coal in very large amounts because ofthe necessity for electricity and heating. Being a prosperous and developednation, Canada has received a lot of immigrants throughout the years. As thenumber of immigrants grow, Canada will exceed the amount of coal they need andwill eventually run out of this resource in about 20 to 30 years, as we know itis a non-renewable resource and takes millions of years to form. These are thereasons why coal is important to Canada’s economy. One methodthat this industry employs to exploit coal is surface mining: strip mining.Basically, strip mining happens where coal is less than 61 meters (200 ft.
)below the ground and where the coal seams are discovered nearby the surface sothat coal can be stripped out of the ground in very bulky amounts. In thismethod, strip miners remove strips of rock, soil and vegetation which is calledover burden that overlay the coal seams/ beds. The overburden that overlays thecoal seams are removed by big and heavy-duty machines that take up to 3000horse power in order to remove it.
After the overburden is removed, the coal isthen removed from the seam and then the seam is covered again with the removedoverburden. Surface mining is usually cheaper than underground mining. Ifcompared, underground mining takes a lot of time, pressure and heat to exploitcoal. Strip mining can be used in both hilly and flat surfaces. If used inhilly and mountainous places, it is called contour mining. As previously statedbefore, coal is used for electricity and heating in commercial residentialplaces. We use electricity and heating in our daily life’s.
Our surroundingsare mostly based on electricity meaning that we depend on electricity. Forexample. When we are bored and don’t have anything to do, we simply just turnon the TV and in seconds we are engaged into it. Thenegative effect that this method has on the natural environment is that itdestroys the ecosystems around the mine and also pollutes the air. Ecosystemsare mainly targeted by strip mining in which they get damaged and polluted.Mountainous areas are blasted to reach coal seams that leave permanent marks onthe landscape. It destroys landscape, wildlife habitats and forests. This leadsto devastation of agricultural land.
This all leads into destruction of marinelife because when the coal seam is abandoned, rain water gets collected intothe seam and that water turns into acidic water. When the water overflows, itconnects water streams which goes onto oceans and rivers and contaminates thewater in which it destroys marine life. This hurts fishes and other plant life. Thisall comes into ecosystems. This is the first negative effect coal mining has onthe natural environment.
The othernegative effect that it has on the natural environment is that it impacts theair quality. Strip mining also plays a big role to contaminate the air quality.Contaminating the air quality meaning polluting the air and making theatmosphere for humans, animals and plants hard to live in. When the overburdenis removed from the top of the seam, there are naturally occurring elements andgases that are exposed to the air. These gases and elements such as arsenic andlead are harmless when in the ground but are harmful for the atmosphere whenexposed to the air.
These elements and gases are harmful for humans and animalsbecause they cause respiratory problems. Another way that the air quality isaffected is by the heavy-duty machines that dig up coal because of the toxicgases they release into the air. If this continues, natural resources and itsneed will be a threat to human life. These are the negative effects that thismethod has on the natural environment. Toensure long term sustainability of this resource and to lessen the impact thatit has on the natural environment, we should stop exceeding the amount of theresource we need.
It is in our knowledge that coal in Canada is mostly minedbecause of the use for generating electricity and for heating. We needelectricity in almost everything we use in our daily life’s such as a computer,microwave and etc. By using less electricity, we can reduce the amount of coalwe take. We can find alternatives for electricity use so we can reduce it like usingenergy-saving bulbs that uses seventy percent less energy than a standard bulbuses. As citizens, we should take care of our future and use less electricityas possible. We should come up of ideas like recycling electricity so we canuse electricity as much as we want without generating new electricity. We canalso lessen the impact of this method on the natural environment by reducingland disruption and waste production. Mining should be conducted in a way thatthe mine can be re-usable for future and that it creates less outputs such aswaste and land disruption.
An idea that the government can think of is thatthey can use waste production for raw materials and manufacture products thatare useful for the environment or the society. That can also provide jobs forpeople who don’t have jobs. Canada’s Eco Network suggests that in order to reducethe effect of mining on the natural environment, we should reduce the amount ofminerals by increasing the efficiency of manufacturing processes so we can useless minerals as possible. I think we should invest in making manufacturingprocesses more efficient. These are someideas by me and suggestions given by Environmental Networks that ensure longterm sustainability of this resource and to lessen the impact it has on thenatural environment.
1 https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/gdp2 http://www.gochetwynd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Coal-Association-of-Canada-Presentation.pdf