The Elkview mine is located approximately three kilometres east of Sparwood in southeastern British Columbia. Teck has a 95% partnership interest in the Elkview mine. The remaining 5% is held by affiliates Nippon Steel Corporation and POSCO, a Korean steel producer, each of which acquired a 2.5% interest in 2005.
The mine is comprised of 27,054 hectares of coal lands of which 3,599 hectares have been mined or are scheduled for mining. Elkview produces primarily high quality steelmaking coal, although a small amount of thermal coal also is produced. The mine has a current production capacity of approximately 5.6 million tonnes of clean coal and the preparation plant has a capacity of 6.5 million tonnes per year of clean coal.
At 2009 production rates, the Elkview mine is estimated to have a remaining reserve life of approximately 55 years.
The Elkview mine is located in the Elk Valley region of southeastern British Columbia, 15 kilometres from Sparwood. The mine is located between the Coal Mountain mine to the south and the Line Creek mine to the north./p>
Most of the over 700 Elkview employees live locally in Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie or the Crowsnest Pass. These communities offer exceptional opportunities for recreation in both summer and winter, all within the setting of the picturesque Rocky Mountains of southeastern B.C. and the Alberta foothills./p>
The mine covers a portion of the Crowsnest coal field that runs from just north of the Elkview property to 20 kilometres south of the City of Fernie, British Columbia.
The mine is a conventional open pit operation comprised of 12,943 hectares. The mineral reserves associated with the Elkview mine lie in the Mist Mountain formation within the Crowsnest coal field. There are 16 economic coal seams which the mine is exploiting.
The Mist Mountain Formation is located in the Front Ranges of Southeastern BC and Southwestern Alberta, it contains essentially all the coals of economic interest in southeastern British Columbia. This strata is of the Jurassic-Cretaceous period deposited approximately 120 to 150 million years ago.
Economically the Mist Mountain formation is the most important formation of the Kootenay Group with coal seams up to 18 m in thickness which range in rank from medium to high volatile bituminous coal in the ELP area. On the property the Mist Mountain Formation averages over 600 m in thickness and contains over 20 mineable coal seams.
The major structure of the Property is a southwest plunging syncline, known as the Sparwood (Michel) Syncline which contains numerous thrust faults that result in repeats and thickening of the 10 Seam. This is the primary seam at the property and accounts for approximately 70 percent of clean coal production.
Individual seams range from less than 1 to greater than 10 metres in thickness. Coals vary in rank between medium and low volatile bituminous, and generally yield firm, coherent coke, although non-coking (or weakly coking) high volatile bituminous and semianthracitic coals also occur in notable quantities in some areas.
It is estimated that the Crowsnest coal field, which hosts the Mist Mountain Formation, contains a coal resource of over 25 billion tonnes. The coal produced is a high quality mid-volatile hard coking coal. Lesser quantities of lower grade hard coking coal are also produced.
Mining & Operations
Ore is liberated by first drilling a pattern of between 250 and 400 holes using a fleet of drilling equipment including 2 P&H 120As, a BE49R, a BE61R and 2 GD120s, all capable of drilling holes up to 355 mm in diameter. The holes are then filled with explosives, and blasted. There are generally three or four blasting sessions per week at the mine.
The waste rock is then loaded onto a fleet of 40 Haulpak 830Es haul trucks using a fleet of 8 electric shovels, P&H models 4100, 2800 XP and 2800 Mark 1s. The newest and largest shovel, the P&H 4100 moves 75 tonnes with each bucket, and fills a truck with 3 scoops in about 1 1/2 minutes. The trucks then take the waste rock to the waste dump areas at a rate of more than 100 loads per hour. To expose one tonne of coal, approximately eight or nine tonnes of waste rock must be removed. To fully expose the coal, large dozers push residual waste rock off the seams.
The clean coal is then loaded into trucks using electric shovels and loaders with buckets as large as 43 cubic meters. The coal is then hauled to the breaker using a fleet of 6 Haulpak 630Es each capable of carrying 190 tonnes, at a rate of about eight loads per hour. Coal from different seams and from different areas of the mine is trucked to the breaker at specified ratios to meet product blend specifications.
Raw coal is trucked to the breaker, which breaks up the larger coal pieces and removes any large rock fragments. The raw coal is then conveyed to the wash plant where it is cleaned. Fine rock particles are removed from the coal using gravity and flotation techniques.
The waste rock that is removed from the coal is either trucked to refuse dumps or sent to a tailings pond. The washed coal is then sent to the dryer to bring the moisture content down to product specifications. Once the coal is clean and has been dried, it is then conveyed to storage areas and loaded onto unit trains. Elkview will have the capacity to expose, haul and clean 7 million tonnes of clean coal per year by 2007.
Environment and community
Immediately adjacent to the community of Sparwood, air quality in the area has shown a significant improvement over the past decade. Elkview operates a modern, state-of-the-art air monitoring network in the Sparwood area that shows that air quality in the area is consistently comparable to similar sized communities in British Columbia. An aggressive dust control program is also in effect.
Elkview is committed to ensuring that all waters leaving the property meet or exceed provincial standards. After more than three decades of mining in the Valley, water quality in the Elk and Michel watersheds continues to support a world-class fishery. Restoring mined land to productive wildlife habitat is a key component of the mining operations.
Elkview currently has reclaimed nearly 900 hectares of mined land, representing 25% of the total area disturbed since mining began. An indicator of the success of reclamation programs is the stable wildlife populations on the property. Recent wildlife surveys indicate the largest recorded populations of elk and mule deer on the Elkview property in more than 20 years.