CPAWS welcomes Canada’s firm stance on future thermal coal mining projects and project expansions

Thermal coal mine projects and expansions not aligned with Canada’s domestic and international climate change commitments, says federal government

June 11, 2021, traditional unceded Algonquin Territory/Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is encouraged by today’s Policy Statement by Minister Wilkinson stating that new thermal coal mine projects and expansions do not align with Canada’s domestic and international climate change commitments. The statement is a clear indication that Canada is committed to being an international leader on climate action and biodiversity.

“It’s another signal that Canada recognizes adverse environmental impacts of proposed projects should be at the forefront of our decision-making processes about the economy and the environment,” says Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the biggest global crises and they are deeply connected, with climate change causing species to go extinct, and the loss of biodiversity making ecosystems more vulnerable to climate change.”

CPAWS shares the perspective of Minister Wilkinson that new thermal coal mines and expansions represent unacceptable threats to climate, species at risk and human health, and have no place on Canada’s landscape.

The CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter has been engaged in the environmental assessment process for the Phase I Vista Test Underground Mine and Vista Mine Phase II Expansion Projects (Coalspur Vista mine projects) near Hinton, Alberta.

CPAWS appreciates that Minister Wilkinson, in his letter to Coalspur Mines (Operations) Ltd., makes clear that Coalspur’s plans do not provide suitable certainty for the survival and recovery of species at risk that could be impacted by their project. 

“The Coalspur project proposal is right in the middle of habitat for the endangered Athabasca Rainbow trout,” says Tara Russell, Program Director for CPAWS Northern Alberta. “Destruction of habitat for any species on the brink of extinction is unacceptable.  A consideration of impacts to recovery of species at risk should be included in all major projects under federal review.”


The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean, and freshwater, and ensuring our parks and protected areas are managed to protect nature. Since 1963, we have played a leading role in protecting over half a million square kilometres. Our vision is to protect at least half of Canada’s public land and water in a framework of reconciliation – for the benefit of wildlife and people. For more information about CPAWS and the work we do to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage, visit Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Donate today. Take action.


For more information or interviews, please contact:

CPAWS Northern Alberta
Tara Russell
Program Director

CPAWS National
Tracy Walden
National Director, Communications and Development