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Sask. community receives $550,000 to pursue alternative uses for coal

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The Government of Saskatchewan has committed $550,000 to the town of Coronach and the Rural Municipality (RM) of Hart Butte to pursue alternative uses for coal.

The more than half a million in funding will be used to advance research into char production and utilization – in partnership with the University of Regina.

A pilot project by Videre Energy – focusing on taking lignite coal and converting it to low greenhouse gas emission products that can be used in energy and agriculture – was identified by South Saskatchewan Ready as a key economic driver in the area.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to helping the areas of the province that will be most impacted by the closure of coal plants, and that's exactly what this funding will do," Agriculture Minister David Marit said in a news release.

South Saskatchewan Ready, an economic alliance of nine communities and RMs in southern Saskatchewan – is committed to staving off the economic effects of the coal transition.

The Poplar River Power Plant – located near Coronach – is one of Saskatchewan’s three coal fired power generating stations.

The plant is set to be decommissioned by the end of the decade – due to federal regulations mandating that all coal fired power plants be decommissioned after 50 years of operation or by 2030, whichever comes first.

"The Videre lignite demonstration plant represents a way forward with the potential to mitigate the negative economic impacts of the federal mandate to close the Poplar River Power Station in 2030," Coronach Mayor Calvin Martin said in the release.

A South Saskatchewan Ready commissioned feasibility study – focusing on agriculture, green energy, mining and tourism opportunities – was internationally recognized in 2022.

The Government of Saskatchewan invested $10 million into Estevan and Coronach in 2020 to aid their transitions away from coal based industries.

Currently, coal accounts for 32 per cent or 1,036 megawatts of Saskatchewan’s power generation.

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