British Columbia seeks input on Sukunka coal mine project

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) said June 7 that it is taking public comment on an environmental document for the Sukunka coal mining project of newly-formed Glencore Xstrata.

The company is proposing to develop and operate the Sukunka project, an integrated surface and underground metallurgical coal mine located about 55 kilometers south of Chetwynd and 40 kilometers west of Tumbler Ridge, in northeast British Columbia. The proposed project would initially produce 1.5 to 2.5 million tonnes per year, increasing to 6 million tonnes per year when underground mining begins.

Glencore must obtain an environmental assessment certificate before any work can be undertaken on the proposed project. However, prior to submission of an application for a certificate, the EAO must first approve Application Information Requirements (AIR). These requirements will specify the studies to be conducted and the detailed information to be provided in the application. EAO has now received draft Application Information Requirements and invites comments on this draft.

There will be an open house, to be held June 24 in Chetwynd. The comment period will begin on June 14 and end on July 15. At this stage of the process, the primary intent is to receive feedback about the studies or information required for a comprehensive environmental assessment.

The Sukunka project tenure is owned by Boreas Inc., a jointly owned subsidiary of Xstrata Coal Canada Resources Ltd. (XCCRL) (25%) and First Coal Corp. (FCC) (75%). Both XCCRL and FCC are 75% owned by Xstrata Coal Canada (XCC) and 25% owned by JX Nippon Oil & Energy (JX) (Australia) Pty Ltd. XCC and JX created the Xstrata Coal British Columbia Group (XCBC) whereby XCC and JX have a 75% and a 25% interest respectively. XCBC incorporates contiguous metallurgical coal assets in the Peace River Coalfields.

In May, international commodities trader and producer Glencore acquired Xstrata PLC, forming Glencore Xstrata, and now owns XCC and all other subsidiaries and is therefore the proponent of the Sukunka Project.

The executive team of Glencore consists of:

  • Doug Smith, General Manager, who has 35 years in the coal industry including four years as President, CEO and Director of First Coal and 12 years as President and Director of Andalex Resources, while it was a major independent coal producer in Utah.
  • Bryan Tiedt, Sustainable Development Manager, who has over 20 years in the coal industry with experience in sustainable mining practices, environmental compliance, waste management systems for coal operations and negotiating and implementing Native Title and Cultural Heritage Agreements in Australia.
  • Ben Coleman, Technical Services Manager, who has over 10 years in the coal industry with experience in the planning and operation of open cut coal mines including dragline, shovel and truck planning, systems development, business improvement initiatives and project development and is qualified as a Mine Manager in New South Wales, Australia.

As for the reasons for the project, the draft AIR noted: “Global seaborne coking coal demand is projected to increase from 227 [million tonnes] Mt in 2011 to 378 Mt in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8 percent. This compares to a historical growth rate of 6 percent over the last five years from 2006 to 2011. Demand growth is mainly driven by increased steel production in Asian and South American countries without a sufficient supply of coking coal of suitable quality to operate modern blast furnaces. India, China and Brazil are the countries where the greatest demand growth is expected to occur.”

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.