Atrum Coal readies test production at British Columbia project

Australia-based Atrum Coal said in a July 31 activities report covering the second quarter of this year that it continues to advance exploration and pre-feasibility study (PFS) work on its Groundhog anthracite coal mining project in British Columbia.

It said it has completed a four-week drilling program at its flagship Groundhog Anthracite Project in this Canadian province, targeting infill drilling of a bulk sample location area prior to trial mining in the second half of 2014. Atrum said it has completed seam correlation, structural modeling and anthracite quality interpretation from the 64 diamond core drill hole program completed in 2013.

Recent anthracite quality results were excellent and in line with 2012 results with wash yields ranging from 57% to 83% for a range of potential anthracite products, the company noted. A primary area has been identified as a shallow entry point into the high quality #70 seam for maiden production of up to a 100,000 tonne bulk sample commencing in 2014, with this area confirmed to host ultra-high grade (UHG) anthracite.

The independent PFS confirms “robust economics” for peak 5.4 million tonnes per year of run-of-mine (ROM) operation at Groundhog, the company said. The PFS covers less than 5% of the Groundhog area and only two of 20+ anthracite seams.

A Terminal Services Agreement and Land Reservation Agreement were signed with Stewart Bulk Terminals for the export of 1.5 million tonnes per year on non ‘take or pay’ terms commencing in 2014. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with Stewart World Port for the export of up to a further 5 million tonnes per year with staged export commencing in 2016.

The Groundhog project is located in the Groundhog Coalfield in the northern part of the Bowser Basin in north-western British Columbia, approximately 890 kilometers northwest of Vancouver.

Atrum commissioned leading Australian-based mining and engineering consultants Valzan to carry out an independent PFS for the development of an up to 5.4 million tonnes per year ROM operation at Groundhog. Although the deposit is shallow and amenable to large scale open-cut mining, in order to fast-track a low impact and low cost entry to production, an initial ‘adit style’ or ‘cut and cover’ underground mine methodology has been adopted.

The PFS is based on the underground mining of the #70 seam and the #40 seam in the northwest area of Groundhog, which represents less than 5% of the aerial extent of Groundhog and models only two seams out of a potential 20+ anthracite seams. Using bord and pillar roadway development and productive mini-wall mining techniques, an initial 87.4 million tonnes of ROM anthracite has been defined with 75 million tonnes of this modeled for extraction.

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.