The Coal Mountain mine is located 30 kilometres southeast of Sparwood in southeastern British Columbia. The minesite is comprised of 3,836 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 1,016 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining.
Coal Mountain produces both steelmaking and thermal coal. The current annual production capacities of the mine and preparation plant are 2.7 and 3.5 million tonnes of clean coal, respectively.
Proven and probable reserves at Coal Mountain are projected to support mining at 2009 production rates for a further 9 years.
Coal Mountain is located 30 kilometres southeast of the community of Sparwood in the very southeastern corner of British Columbia. The minesite is comprised of 2,521 hectares of coal lands, of which approximately 650 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining.
Sparwood is set in the rich coal fields of southeast British Columbia, giving it a strong resource-based economy. Coal extraction dominates the economy, but forestry related industries also contribute significantly. Exploration is being carried out on an ongoing basis for natural gas, carbon dioxide and oil. The natural resource base seems to be limitless.
Most of the over 175 employees live locally in the Crowsnest Pass, Sparwood or Fernie. 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.
The mine site is comprised of 2,521 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 650 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining. The mineral reserves associated with the Coal Mountain mine lie in the Mist Mountain formation of the Crowsnest coal field with the mine exploiting 16 coal seams.
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. Its thickness ranges between 450 and 550 metres and the coal forms between 8 and 12 per cent of the total thickness of the formation at most locations.
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.
Mining & Operations
Ore is liberated by first drilling a pattern of three to four hundred holes with a Drilltech D90K. These holes are then filled with explosives, and blasting. There are generally one or two blasting sessions per week at the mine.
The waste rock is then loaded onto one of 8 Haulpak 830E, or 6 Cat 785 haul trucks using one of two O&K RH200 diesel hydraulic shovels and hauled to the waste dump areas. Every day, more than 50,000 tonnes of waste rock is removed. To expose one tonne of clean coal, five tonnes of waste rock must be removed.
The clean coal is then loaded into trucks, primarily using hydraulic shovels or loaders with buckets as large as 18 cubic meters. The coal is then hauled to the breaker using 218 tonne trucks at a rate of over 13,000 tonnes per day. 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.
Environment and community
Health and safety of employees are a top priority at Coal Mountain. Safety performance has been among the best in the industry owed in part to the comprehensive safety and loss-control program which incorporates the prevention of accidents, injuries and illnesses into normal work activities. Effective use of personal protective equipment and employee training on safe work practices and procedures are an integral part of these programs.
Coal Mountain was awarded the Edward Prior Safety Award in 2003 and 2004 for achieving the lowest compensable injury frequency rate of any mine in B.C. working between 250,000 and 1,000,000 man hours.
Coal Mountain's environmental commitment includes research and development of optimal reclamation techniques. Reclamation is integrated into mining activities for erosion control and provision for wildlife species, including the needs of elk and bighorn sheep at high elevations.