Nova Scotia

Donkin coal mine added to list of mandatory participants in N.S. carbon pricing program

An order in council signed this week made the Kameron Coal-owned mine, which resumed operations in September, the third company in the province that must participate in Nova Scotia’s output-based pricing system.

3 largest emitters in the province must take part, voluntary for others

Two large trucks pass on a dusty road leading past the gate and guardhouse at the entrance to a mine.
The coal mine in Donkin is one of three large industrial outfits in the province that are mandated to participate in Nova Scotia's output-based pricing scheme for greenhouse gas emissions. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The Donkin coal mine is now subject to Nova Scotia's carbon pricing system for large emitters.

A government order in council signed this week made the Kameron Coal-owned mine, which resumed operations in September, the third company in the province that must participate in Nova Scotia's output-based pricing system.

"This is designed to hold large emitters accountable," Environment Minister Tim Halman said in an interview Friday.

"I was clear with Nova Scotians months ago that I believe Donkin should be a part of this. We know Donkin is the second-largest emitter in Nova Scotia, so therefore it's only fitting, it's only appropriate that they're part of being a mandatory participant in this program."

Nova Scotia Power and the Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield are the other two companies for whom participation is mandatory because their greenhouse gas emissions exceed 50,000 tonnes per year.

Environment Minister Tim Halman says it is fitting for Donkin to participate in the program because it is the province's second-largest emitter. (Robert Short/CBC)

The province introduced its output-based pricing system last fall to replace the cap-and-trade system Nova Scotia has used since 2019. It launched in January and sets performance standards companies must meet or be subject to financial penalties.

With the federal government requiring an annual increase on the price of carbon through 2030, it was determined the existing cap-and-trade program could not meet the new thresholds. So the province needed to develop a new system or accept Ottawa's updated pricing scheme.

Halman said there are four or five other companies in Nova Scotia whose emissions fall between 10,000 and 50,000 tonnes for whom participation in the pricing system will be voluntary.

The minister said he believes it is advantageous for those companies to sign on because it gives them an alternative to the federal government's pricing scheme. Provincial officials have said Nova Scotia's system would increase power rates for participants by less than the federal system.

"My staff is doing ongoing engagements with companies, such as Michelin, for example," said Halman.

Voluntary participants must sign on to the plan by April 1.

Consumer carbon pricing kicks in in July

Updating carbon pricing for industrial emitters was a much smoother process for the Nova Scotia government than dealing with consumer fuels.

The provincial government declined to design its own carbon pricing plan for gas, diesel and home heating fuel. Halman and Premier Tim Houston attempted to convince federal officials that the province's emission reduction targets, which are laid out in legislation, should be enough.

The federal government disagreed, noting that a federal pricing plan is only federal if all provinces are participating.

In the absence of an acceptable submission from Nova Scotia, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced in November that the federal carbon pricing scheme for gas, diesel and home heating fuel will kick in for Nova Scotians on July 1. The federal government will begin sending quarterly rebate cheques that same month to help offset the price increases Nova Scotians will experience.



Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at

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