The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office is taking public comment until April 5 on an application by Teck Coal Ltd. to expand its existing Line Creek mine by developing two new mining areas, referred to as Burnt Ridge North and Mount Michael.
This proposed project would be located approximately 22 kilometers northeast of Sparwood in southeastern British Columbia, immediately north of the existing Line Creek mine, the office said in a Feb. 14 public notice. The proposed project would provide an estimated aggregate total of 59 million tonnes of clean coal and would extend overall mine life by about 18 years.
The proposed project is subject to review under British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Teck Coal, a unit of Teck Resources, has submitted its application to obtain an environmental assessment certificate which is required before any work can be undertaken on the project.
Teck Coal noted in a September 2011 update of the application that it is the leading North American producer of steelmaking coal. The company operates six open-pit mines in western Canada: Cardinal River, Coal Mountain, Fording River, Greenhills, Elkview and Line Creek. Five of these mines are in the Elk Valley of southeastern British Columbia; and Cardinal River is in west-central Alberta.
For the most part, the project is consistent with the mine plan and implementation schedule that was originally presented in the 2009 application. The primary updates to the project in the September 2011 filing include installation of a selenium active water treatment plant that will reduce selenium load from mine-affected water. The treatment plant is projected to be commissioned in 2022. There are also updates to the surface water management plan to include a diversion system that will convey selenium-concentrated water from the toe of the Dry Creek rock drain to a sediment pond and the active water treatment plant.
Selenium in mine water runoff has become a big issue in the last couple of years in western Canada and also in the U.S. coal industry, particularly in southern West Virginia.
The construction phase for these new mining areas is planned to begin in the second quarter of 2013, the updated application said. Operations are planned to begin in 2014, with mining beginning in the south phases of Mount Michael and Burnt Ridge North. Mining will end in the year 2031.
“Line Creek supplies steelmaking and thermal coal to a variety of international and domestic customers,” said the Teck Resources website. “Line Creek consists of 8,183 hectares of coal lands of which approximately 2,267 hectares have been mined or are scheduled for mining. The current annual production capacities of the mine and preparation plant are approximately 2.9 [million] and 3.5 million tonnes of clean coal, respectively.”