The Greenhills mine is located eight kilometres northeast of the community of Elkford, in southeastern British Columbia. The minesite is comprised of 11,806 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 2,265 hectares have been mined or are scheduled for mining.
Greenhills is operated under a joint venture agreement among Teck, POSCO Canada Limited ("POSCAN") and POSCAN's parent, POSCO. Pursuant to the agreement, Teck has an 80% interest in the joint venture while POSCAN has a 20% interest.
Coal mined at Greenhills is primarily steelmaking coal, although a small amount of thermal coal also is produced. The current annual production capacities of the mine and preparation plant (on a 100% basis) are 4.0 and 4.5 million tonnes of clean coal, respectively.
Proven and probable reserves at Greenhills are projected to support mining at 2009 production rates for a further 25 years.
Greenhills is located eight kilometres northeast of Elkford, in southeastern British Columbia. Situated in the Rocky Mountains at the highest elevation for a community in Canada (1,300 metres), Elkford is known as the Wilderness Capital of British Columbia.
The minesite is comprised of 10,892 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 2,669 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining. The mineral reserves associated with the Greenhills 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
Production is derived from the Cougar reserve, which is divided into two distinct pits, Cougar North and Cougar South. Cougar North has been fully developed and currently produces the bulk of the coal for the mine. Development and pre-stripping of Cougar South is underway and is expected to provide a long term source of coal.
The ore is liberated by first drilling a pattern of 200 to 250 holes with 2 B.E. 49R drills. These holes are then filled with explosives, and blasted. There are about three to four blasts a week.
The waste rock is loaded onto one of 27 Haulpak 830E or 6 Wabco 170 haul trucks with a P&H 4100 XPB, a P&H 2800 XPB, P&H 2800 or a Marion 301 shovel. The largest shovel can hold 83 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 the rate of more than 85 loads an hour.
To expose one tonne of coal, about eight to nine cubic metres of waste rock must be moved. The coal is loaded into trucks using loaders with buckets as large as 33 cubic metres, and hauled to the breaker using 154 tonne trucks at a rate of about 6 loads per hour.
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.
Each month, approximately seventeen unit trains, each stretching to over two kilometers in length, are loaded with clean coal headed for either the West shore or Neptune terminals at the Port of Vancouver. Coal products destined for North America are railed directly to customers or to Thunder Bay Terminals in Ontario.
Environment and community
Greenhills has attained the ISO 14001:1996 registration, one of the highest international environmental management standards.
Over 147,200 native tree seedlings have been planted at the mine site for the purpose of reclamation and over 400 hectares have been reclaimed to wildlife and forestry end land use.
Twelve winter aerial wildlife surveys have been completed, finding record numbers of bighorn sheep and elk using the reclaimed areas at the mine site. Greenhills has been recognized for reclamation innovation with the 2000 BC Coal Mining Citation Award for ongoing activities in reclamation.
Teck coal has a commitment to extensive research and development in optimal reclamation techniques and has achieved outstanding results in erosion control and provision of important habitat for wildlife species, including elk and bighorn sheep, at high elevations.