British Columbia processes app on HD Mining’s planned coal mine

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office on Dec. 4 said it has accepted and begun processing a Nov. 28 Application/Environmental Impact Statement from HD Mining International Ltd. for an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed Murray River Coal Project.

HD Mining proposes to develop the Murray River Coal Project as a 6 million tonne per year (6 Mtpa) underground metallurgical coal mine. The project is located 12.5 kilometers southwest of the town of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia.

The company noted in the application that this would the first underground metallurgical coal mine using longwall mining in British Columbia, and it would be the only currently operating longwall mine in Canada. HD Mining said it is well-positioned to develop the project, given its experience with longwall mining in China. “HD Mining is committed to training Canadian citizens in the use of underground longwall mining methods,” the company added. That is an important point since the company in recent years has run into controversy over stated plans to import workers from China for this mine. Western Canada is currently dominated by a relative handful of major surface coal mines, with Teck Resources being the largest producer there of coking coal.

The project is well situated to make use of existing local facilities and infrastructure, including roads (Highway 52, Murray River FSR), power (a BC Hydro 230-kV line runs through the property), natural gas (Pacific Northern Gas has a tie-in near Highway 52), and rail (a CN Rail line is adjacent to the Coal Processing Site).

Initially, two declines and a shaft will be constructed to provide access to the coal seams fromthe surface. The decline being constructed for the mining this year of a 100,000-tonne Bulk Sample (Decline Site) will continue to be used for the full mine development. It will serve as the main entry for personnel and materials, as well as a fresh air intake. The shaft planned for the Bulk Sample (Shaft Site) will also continue to be used for the full mine development, serving as the return air shaft for ventilation. A new Production Decline will be constructed from the east side of the Murray River (Coal Processing Site) down toward the base of the shaft. The Production Decline will be the primary means of hauling coal to the surface for processing. It will also provide secondary egress, an alternative route for transport of personnel and materials, and serve as a fresh air intake. Later in the mine life, two more ventilation shafts will be sunk (Secondary Shafts Site): one for fresh intake air and another one for return air. 

There are five coal seams that will be targeted for mining: D, E, F, G/I, and J (depth increases alphabetically). The underground area has been divided into four large coal Blocks, with each Block consisting of 10 to 30 panels in all levels of coal seams. The current underground mine layout includes a total of 84 panels. Where multiple seams are planned to be mined vertically, mining will begin at the shallowest seam (e.g., D Seam), and work downwards. The majority of production is planned in the F and J seams.The 6 Mtpa raw coal mining capacity for the project will be achieved by simultaneously mining two longwall working faces throughout the 25-year life-of-mine. Conveyors will transport the coal from the mining face through the mine and up the Production Decline to the Coal Preparation Plant (CPP). 

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.