New Australian company works on Canadian coal mining projects

Atrum Coal NL, an Australian company incorporated in October 2011, is the latest to take a shot at establishing a foothold in the booming western Canadian metallurgical coal business.

Teck Resources (TSX: TCK.A and TCK.B, NYSE: TCK) has long been the top Canadian met coal producer, but other companies in recent years have acquired coal reserves and planned expansions. Anglo American plc, for instance, said in a June 14 investor presentation that it plans to take its production of British Columbia hard coking coal from less than 1 million tonnes in 2011, to 8 million tonnes in 2020. U.S.-based Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT and TSX: WLT), which last year acquired Canadian producer Western Coal, has expansion plans in the region, as does international miner Xstrata plc.

Atrum Coal said on its website and in various documents available on that website that it is a coal exploration company which owns 100% of the Groundhog Coal Project, Peace River Coal Project and Bowron River Coal Project, all located in British Columbia. The company has been established with a focus on developing coal projects which are prospective for metallurgical coal and high quality export coal. The company has also entered into two option agreements to acquire a 100% interest from Golden River Resources Inc. and Hanam Canada Marketing Corp. in 11,400 hectares of coal license applications that make up the Naskeena Coal Project, also in British Columbia.

  • The company’s “flagship” asset, the Groundhog project, has a Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) inferred resource of 50 million tonnes and an exploration target of between 390 million tonnes and 510 million tonnes. The Groundhog project is located in the Groundhog Coalfield in the northern Bowser Basin in northwestern British Columbia. The project area  is made up of 18 coal licenses covering an area of 8,322 hectares. The deep sea port town of Stewart lies about 150 kilometers southwest of the property. The southern boundary of the property is within about 30 kilometers of the British Columbia Railway (BCR) foundation, which connects southwards with train services to the Prince Rupert coal terminal. In 2005, the Canadian National Railway acquired BCR, and has proposed to extend the track through the Groundhog project to access Fortune Minerals’ (TSX:FT) Mt. Klappan coal project, located about 50 kilometers north of Groundhog. Groundhog could host an open-cut (surface) met coal mine.
  • The Peace River Project, which will need further exploration, is located about 30 kilometers west of the Wapiti Coal Project, owned by Hillsborough Resources Ltd., about 40 kilometers east of the operating Brule mine, owned by Walter Energy, and 35 kilometers north of the Perry Creek/Wolverine mine, also owned by Walter Energy.
  • The Bowron River Project is located about 60 kilometers east of Prince George, British Columbia, within the Bowron Coal Measures of the Nechako Basin. Atrum has lodged a coal license application covering 1,875 hectares. The closest access to rail is Hansard, about 35 kilometers to the north.
  • The Naskeena Coal Project is located about 50 kilometers north of the town of Terrace, British Columbia, in the southern Bowser Basin. Naskeena is comprised of nine separate tenures covering an area of 11,400 hectares. Between 2006 and 2008, Jet Gold Corp. completed 25 diamond drill holes and 8 trench samples, Atrum Coal noted. The Port of Prince Rupert, with the Ridley Island coal handling facility, is approximately 200 kilometers away. The port of Kitimat is located approximately 100 kilometers to the south. A rail line runs to the east of the project area. This project could host an open-cut anthracite mine.

Atrum Coal’s top executives are:

  • James Chisholm, Non-Executive Chairman. Chisholm is a qualified engineer who has worked in the engineering and mining sectors for the past 28 years, initially in engineering, then management, then M&A roles. He was a seed shareholder of Australia’s Doyles Creek Mining (now NuCoal Resources ASX: NCR).
  • Russell Moran, Executive Director. Moran has experience in mining transaction management, capital raisings, public reconstructions and recapitalizations, and strategic business development. Moran is currently Non-Executive Director of Ebony Coal Ltd.
  • Gino D’Anna, Executive Director and Company Secretary. D’Anna has significant offshore coal experience having been former Executive Director of ZYL Ltd. (ASX: ZYL) which is developing the Kangwane and Mbila anthracite coal projects in South Africa.
  • Eric Lilford, Non-Executive Director. Lilford was formerly Chairman of Segue Resources Ltd. (ASX: SEG) and Managing Director of ZYL Ltd., where he was responsible for developing anthracite coal projects in South Africa. Lilford’s experience also includes the completion of prefeasibility and bankable feasibility studies in numerous jurisdictions, mine production as well as corporate advisory and debt arranging for mining companies.
  • Lyle Hobbs, Chief Operations Officer (North America). Hobbs has 24 years of experience in engineering, operations, project management, and corporate functions within the natural resources industry. Hobbs has held a number of senior management roles with Ambre Energy North America, AMEC Americas, Shell Canada, Luscar Coal and Fording Coal.
  • Glenn Collick, Chief Relationship Officer (North America). Collick has over 25 years experience in the natural resources sector having served on the board of a number of public companies. He has been involved in resource project acquisitions and development in China, the U.S., Argentina, Mexico and British Columbia.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.