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Coal facility no risk to taxpayers

Jul 24, 2014

Vancouver Sun
Alan Fryer
July 23, 2014

Re: Managing the risks of investing in coal exports, July 21

Comparing the $450 million-plus total cost of the Canadian taxpayer-funded Mirabel International Airport with the $13.7-million privately funded Fraser Surrey Docks direct coal transfer facility is patently absurd.

Contrary to what professor Anthony Perl argues in his opinion piece, taxpayers are not at risk with proposed coal terminal projects. It is business that is assessing the opportunity as it is business taking the risk, not government on behalf of the taxpayer. All coal terminals in the Lower Mainland are privately owned and operated. They are regulated by — not owned by — Port Metro Vancouver, which is a financially self-sufficient corporation.

Like all commodity markets, the coal sector is cyclical and demand and prices fluctuate. The world needs metallurgical coal to make steel, which is used in myriad things, from buildings and rapid transit to solar panels and cutlery. The fastest growing source of energy globally over the past decade or so has been coal. While the percentage of renewable energy is growing, coal will continue to be an essential part of the global energy mix for many decades to come.

Finally, some perspective: virtually all of the U.S. thermal coal shipped through Vancouver annually goes to South Korea and Japan, and less than one million tonnes is shipped to China, which produces and consumes more than 3.2 billion tonnes a year.

ALAN FRYER

Coal Alliance

Click here to view original letter in the Vancouver Sun.

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