Mining Association endorses a national price on carbon

A quarry near Lillooet, B.C.

The group representing some of B.C.’s biggest miners wants a carbon price—but doesn’t name one

The industry organization that represents some of B.C.’s biggest mining companies came out in support of a price on carbon emissions on Wednesday, with the caveat that it wants to ensure “a level playing field for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries.”

The Ottawa-based Mining Association of Canada includes metals miners like Eldorado Gold, Imperial Metals Corp. and Taseko Mines, mixed metals and coal producers like Teck Resources Ltd., and oil sands companies like Suncor Energy Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

“Today, one of Canada’s largest industries is coming out in support of a carbon price, identifying it as the most effective and efficient means of driving emissions reductions and making real progress in the global fight against climate change,” said Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of MAC in a statement.

Mining accounted for 1.1 per cent of all Canadian emissions in 2014 when coal and the oil sands were excluded (the latter contributes between seven and eight per cent of Canada’s emissions, according to the Pembina Institute). In B.C., miners accounted for three per cent of emissions in 2012, the last time the province conducted a comprehensive survey, and that figure includes emissions-intensive natural gas production.

The measure comes a month after the federal government and Canada’s provinces agreed on the need for a price on carbon at a summit in Vancouver but failed to settle on a price. And while provincial leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will convene in September to rediscuss the issue, Wednesday’s statement broadly aligns the goals of industry with those of government. “In the context of the federal government wanting to get the country moving on carbon pricing, it’s positive to see that kind of statement from a big and important sector,” says Matt Horne, director of energy solutions at the Pembina Institute.

The Mining Association, however, has conditions. It’s calling for a revenue neutral approach, where funds raised via a carbon tax would be invested in the development of lower emission technologies, with public-private partnerships cited as one example. The group is also asking that any regime works in tandem with B.C.’s existing scheme, avoids duplications and “addresses competitiveness.”

“The challenge with any of these general statements of support is continuing that support when you get into the nuts and bolts of the policy ends up looking like,’” says Horne. “It’s good they’ve signalled a good amount of flexibility, but there are still some big questions in terms of what the price is going to be for the national system, and hopefully the sector support can continue through that process.”

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