[Saskatchewan] Residents in the south worried about the ‘war on coal’ – by Will Chabun (Regina Leader-Post – November 23, 2016)


Like his counterpart in Estevan, the mayor of Coronach worries about what’s ahead for the coal mine and power plant near his town. Reacting to Monday’s news that the federal government wants all or most of the coal-fired power generating plants in Canada closed by 2030, Coronach Mayor Trevor Schnell said the loss of the Westmoreland Coal mine and SaskPower generating plant near his town of 800 would be a heavy blow.

“If they close the plant and the mine in Coronach, that would be basically the end of Coronach — aside from farming,” he said Tuesday.

About 150 people work at the SaskPower plant and about the same number at Westmoreland Coal. Schnell said the town, about 170 kilometres southwest of Regina near the American border, also sees a lot of consultants and technical specialists pass through it on their way to the power plant.

Westmoreland Coal runs surface mining operations near the SaskPower plants at Coronach and Estevan. Its stock traded at $16.06 US at Monday’s opening, but had fallen to $15.01 US at day’s end. It had recovered to $15.35 US by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Schnell said he has heard the last few years have seen the construction of towers, possibly to see if local winds could support wind turbines, but with no news beyond that. There’s talk of oil and gas deposits in the area, but at current low prices “nobody’s going to explore.”

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