British Columbia agency launches review of Michel Creek coal mining project

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office on Oct. 23 issued an order offically putting the Michel Creek Coking Coal Project of Australia-based CanAus Coal Ltd. into the environmental assessment process.

CanAus Coal proposes to construct and operate an open pit coal mine located approximately 15 kilometers southeast of Sparwood, British Columbia. The proposed mine would have a disturbance area of approximately 1,000 hectares and a production capacity of about 2.1 million tonnes per year of clean coal.

The proposed project constitutes a reviewable project, since it is a new mine that exceeds a production capacity of 250 000 tonnes/year of clean coal. The Executive Project Director at the office considers that the proposed project may have a potential significant adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage or health effect, taking into account practical means of preventing or reducing to an acceptable level, any potential adverse effects of the proposed project. So the project will need an environmental assessment certificate.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said Oct. 13 that it must decide whether a federal environmental assessment is required for this same project. To assist in making its decision, the agency is seeking comments from the public until Nov. 2 on the project and its potential effects on the environment.

CanAus Coal Ltd., a subsidiary of Australia’s CoalMont Pty Ltd., proposes to construct, operate, decommission and abandon an open-pit metallurgical coal mine in the Elk Valley, located about 15 kilometers southeast of Sparwood. As proposed, the Michel Creek Coking Coal Project would produce 3.5 million tonnes of raw coal per year (2.1 million clean tonnes), over a mine-life of at least 10 years.

The licensed properties consist of three separate deposits referred to as Loop Ridge, Michel Head and Tent Mountain. CanAus is only proposing the mining of the Loop Ridge Deposit. This includes:

  • An annual production of 3.5 million tonnes raw coal (2.1 million tonnes clean) – based on plant throughput rates;
  • An average production rate of 5,800 clean tonnes per day (t/d), based on a 365-day operating period;
  • A Loop Ridge mine life of 10 years with the potential to extend the project life by approximately 10 years assuming positive exploration results from other license areas held by the company; and
  • An initial estimate of project disturbance footprint over the 10-year life-of-mine of approximately 1,000 hectares.

The north end of the project property is approximately 2 kilometers south of the Crowsnest Pass Highway (Hwy 3) and approximately 15 kilometers southeast of Sparwood. An all-weather access road currently extends from the highway to the site. The Canadian Pacific Railway, connecting eastern Canada with west coast ports including Vancouver, B.C., is located on the north boundary of the project area.

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.