The Line Creek mine is located approximately 25 kilometres north of Sparwood in southeastern British Columbia. Line Creek supplies steelmaking and thermal coal to a variety of international and domestic customers.
The Line Creek property consists of 8,183 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 2,267 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining.
The current annual production capacities of the mine and preparation plant are 2.5 and 3.5 million tonnes of clean coal, respectively. At 2009 production rates Line Creek has an estimated remaining reserve life of approximately 10 years.
The Line Creek mine is located in southeastern British Columbia, about 27 kilometres north of Sparwood (pop. ~4,000). Most Line Creek 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.
The property 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.
It is estimated that the Crowsnest coal field, which hosts the Mist Mountain Formation, contains a coal resource of over 25 billion tonnes. Elk Valley Coal also operates four other mines in the Crowsnest coal field including the Elkview, Greenhills, Fording River, and Coal Mountian.
The Line Creek property consists of 8,124 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 1,150 hectares are currently being mined or are scheduled for mining. The mineral reserves associated with the Line Creek 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.
Line Creek supplies metallurgical and thermal coal to a variety of international and domestic steel producers and Pacific Rim electric utilities. 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. In January 2005, Line Creek had close to 20 million tonnes of clean coal reserves, which ensures an eight year mine life at current production rates.
Mining & Operations
The ore is liberated by first drilling a drill pattern of 200 to 300 holes using either a P&H 120A, or a GD 120 drill. These holes are then filled with explosives, and blasted. There are about three to four blasts a week. The blast is designed to break up waste rock so it can be moved to expose the coal seams.
The waste rock is loaded onto one of 5 Cat 793Cs, or 15 Cat 789 haul trucks with either a P&H 2800XPB, a P&H 2800A , a P&H 2800 or a BE 395 BIII shovel. The trucks then take the waste rock to the waste dump areas at the rate of more than 115 loads an hour. To expose one tonne of coal, about eight to nine cubic metres of waste rock must be moved. This relationship is our strip ratio, and is a key economic indicator. The coal is then loaded into trucks using one of three LeTourneau loaders and the large shovels, and hauled to the breaker. 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.
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.
Environment and community
Proactive environmental protection practices form an integral component of Line Creek's operations. Sound baseline information, including biophysical inventories along with regular monitoring of air and water quality, wildlife, fisheries, soil and vegetation, are the basis of the environmental management program.
Interim reclamation on many long-term areas provides high quality summer and fall ranges for both elk and bighorn sheep. Line Creek has an excellent environmental record including the Jade Award, recognizing outstanding achievement for a mine in the province in 1981 and 1996, and British Columbia Reclamation Award Citations recognizing outstanding achievements for reclamation at a coal mine in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1993 and 1998.
Beyond reclamation, Line Creek has an effective recycling program as well. Products such as waste antifreeze, waste oil, oil pressed from oil filters and other waste products are collected and stored on site. Waste products containing hydrocarbons are reused as blasting fuel. In addition to this, Line Creek also has collection stations for batteries, scrap metal and tires. Cleaning and recycling of used gloves and oily rags are the latest measures to be implemented.