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A Lump of Coal Facts for Christmas – by Alan Fryer

Dec 21, 2013

Tradition holds that getting a piece of coal in your stocking for Christmas is a bad thing. But the truth is, here in British Columbia, the coal industry is critical to our economy, to our communities, and to our standard of living. In fact, the humble lump of coal is actually at the heart of a number of things that are important during the holiday season – and even in many of the gifts that will be found under the tree on Christmas morning.

So in the spirit of the season, and to help correct the ongoing campaign of misinformation from opponents of B.C.’s coal industry, we would like to offer these 12 Christmas Coal Facts that may provide you with a different view of the traditional “lump of coal”:

  1. The B.C. coal industry supports 26,000 well-paying jobs in our province.
  2. Coal contributes $3.2 billion to the provincial economy every year and $715 million to government to pay for public services.
  3. Every single coal train travelling through the Lower Mainland contributes enough to provincial revenues to pay for 33 hip surgeries
  4. …or pay for eight school teachers
  5. …or provide 24-hour doctor’s care for 50 days
  6. Most of the coal transported in B.C. is steelmaking coal – an essential ingredient in the creation of steel.
  7. Is there a new pair of skates under your tree Christmas morning? Or, a smartphone? All of those required steelmaking coal.
  8. Travelling by bus, train or plane to visit family for the holidays? Steelmaking coal makes the trip possible.
  9. Forty per cent of the world’s population will be depending on electricity produced by coal to provide heat and light for the holidays.
  10. Coal is the single most important export in B.C., accounting for 25% of all products shipped through Port Metro Vancouver.
  11. Coal in B.C. is moved by trains – the most environmentally-sound way of moving freight. And today’s locomotives are twice as efficient, using half as much diesel fuel. Steel and steelmaking coal are part of a green Christmas.
  12. Coal has been responsibly handled and transported through the Lower Mainland for over 40 years and the people who work with it day in and day out know it can be handled safely.


Maybe it’s time to re-think our negative view of getting a lump of coal for Christmas. Because the fact is, for people around the world, it wouldn’t be a very merry Christmas this year without the jobs, public services, infrastructure and products that the coal industry makes possible.

On behalf of the thousands of British Columbians working hard to responsibly mine and transport coal in our province, have a safe and happy holiday season.



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