Westmoreland Coal ends review of new area for Coal Valley mine in Alberta

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said in a May 15 notice that, at the request of the company, it has terminated the federal environmental assessment process for the proposed Robb Trend Coal Mine Expansion project in Alberta.

On April 21, Westmoreland Coal withdrew a 2012 regulatory application for the expansion of the Coal Valley Mine in the Coal Branch area near the community of Robb, Alberta. The project was referred to an environmental assessment by a review panel in October 2014.

The agency noted that the company may apply to commence a new environmental assessment process, if it determines in the future that it wants to proceed with the project. The April 21 letter from Westmoreland indicates that the company wants to re-work the environmental mitigation strategies for this project, with no indication that this project is being dropped entirely.

The reserve estimate for the Robb Trend project area indicates that it would release approximately 174 million tonnes of coal for processing yielding approximately 87 million clean metric tonnes available for sale. This tonnage would provide the company with the necessary resources to operate at projected rates of production until 2038.

U.S.-based Westmoreland Coal bought this and other Canadian mining operations in 2014 from Sherritt International, which is well after the Robb Trend application was filed. The Coal Valley operation, unlike the other Canadian mines of Westmoreland, which are devoted to supplying minemouth or nearby power plants, is focused on shipping coal into the Pacific Rim export market.

Said the Westmoreland website about the Coal Valley operation: “The mine operates both truck/shovel and dragline pits and utilizes a dragline for coal removal. The mine exports bituminous coal to customers in Japan and Korea as well as some domestic coal. The area has a long history of mining and the Coal Valley Mine was opened in 1978 to supply coal to Ontario Hydro and for overseas export. Coal is uncovered using the two draglines (1- Page 752LR; 1 – M7450) and two truck/shovel fleets. The exposed coal is hauled from the mine to the heavy media wash plant where the waste is removed and then loaded on trains to be shipped to the ports. Current annual production of the mine is 3.0 million tonnes and the plant has capacity to operate at 4.0 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.