Coalspur gets Alberta approval for Vista coal mine project

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) said Feb. 27 that it has issued Decision 2014 ABAER 004 that grants conditional approval for Coalspur Mines (Operations) Ltd. to proceed with its Vista coal mine project.

In granting the approval, the AER placed 26 conditions on the Vista coal mine project to address matters associated with the coal processing plant, mine plan and end-pit lake, geotechnical investigations, fines management, surface water quality and quantity, wetlands, wildlife, and noise mitigation.

Conditions that require completion prior to the project proceeding include:

  • a water management plan that includes details on proposed surface water and groundwater management, monitoring activities, and in stream flow needs; 
  • an adaptive management strategy specific to surface waters within the project area; 
  • a wildlife monitoring plan and management strategy that includes wildlife use and movement in the project area; and
  • a monitoring plan to detect hydrological and vegetation changes in three sensitive wetlands adjacent to the project footprint.

The Coalspur Vista coal mine project is located approximately 10 kilometers east of Hinton and extends for approximately 12 kilometers south east towards the McLeod River Valley.

The Alberta Utilities Commission on Jan. 30 approved a new substation to be built to provide electricity for the Vista coal mine of Coalspur Mines Ltd. The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) had filed a needs identification document (NID) with the commission in May 2013. It requested approval for the need to construct a new 138/25-kV substation to be named the Vista Coal 270S substation and to connect the substation to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.

In October 2013, Coalspur Mines (Operations) Ltd., the proponent for the Vista Coal Mine Project, a coal processing facility, filed a statement of intent to participate in support of the application. The substation would be located in Yellowhead County, about eight kilometers east of the town of Hinton. Construction of the proposed transmission line to the substation is scheduled to commence in January 2014, prior to the migratory bird nesting period of May 1 to July 31.

Coalspur is a coal development company with about 55,000 hectares of coal leases located within the Hinton region of Alberta. Coalspur’s flagship project is Vista, which covers about 10,000 hectares and provides a large scale, surface mineable, thermal coal development. Vista is located adjacent to CN Rail‘s main line, which can transport the coal to deepwater ports on Canada’s west coast. Coalspur has secured a port allocation agreement with Ridley Terminals Inc., which is essential to the logistics supply chain necessary to export coal from Vista to meet the growing demand from the Asia Pacific countries. The company has estimated Phase 1 production of 6 million tonnes per year, with Phase 2 to bring that up to 12 million tonnes per year.

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.