Coal Mountain Mine
Commodities: Metallurgical (coking) coal and thermal coal
Location: 30 km southeast of Sparwood, BC.
Geology and Type of Deposit: Located in the Foreland belt of the Canadian Cordillera, the Coal Mountain deposit is part of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous Kootenay Group, a sedimentary rock unit consisting of sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, shale and coal. These rocks have been complexly folded and faulted during mountain building. The coal layers were pinched and squeezed, forming large pods and creating seams that are 1 – 200 m thick.
The Operation: Underground mining began here in 1905. Open pit mining began in the 1920s using steam shovels. Large-scale open pit mining began in the 1940s. Coal Mountain Mine is owned and operated by Teck Coal Ltd. The mine produces 2.3 million tonnes of cleaned coal each year. Current reserves will be depleted in late 2017. Exploratory drilling to discover more coal reserves locally is being done to extend the mine’s life.
A potential new phase of surface and underground development could extend the mine life 34 years.
Mining Method: Conventional open pit mining using hydraulic shovels and front-end loaders, that load haul trucks. Waste rock is transported to a waste rock dump.
Processing: Coal is hauled from the pit to a crusher by haul trucks, and from there is conveyed to the computerized coal wash plant. Cyclones, spirals and flotation equipment are used to separate the coal from other sedimentary rock particles., These waste rock particles are piped to a tailings pond. The washing plant is computerized to ensure that the coal is processed as efficiently as possible.
Markets: Coal Mountain coal is transported in rail cars 1,175 km from the mine to Westshore Terminals at Roberts Bank (Delta), or to Neptune Terminals in the Port of Vancouver, where it is loaded onto bulk carriers and shipped to markets overseas, primarily Japan and South Korea.
Community and Employment: Coal Mountain employs 340 people. Most employees live in the nearby communities of Sparwood, Fernie or Crowsnest Pass.
Environmental Considerations: Coal Mountain is located high in the Rocky Mountains of southeast BC. The site was originally covered in forest and the entire area was habitat for many plants and animals that thrive in the mountains. When the mine closes the site will be returned to its original uses of forestry and wildlife habitat.
The two main concerns at the mine are air and water quality. Environmental staff continuously monitor and sample air and water around the mine to ensure that quality standards are kept and that methods are working well. To reduce dust, mine roads and coal piles are sprayed with water or other chemical treatments. To ensure creeks stay clean special ditches have been dug to direct runoff to large ponds where the fine sediment can settle out.
Reclamation of land disturbed by mining has been ongoing at Coal Mountain for over 35 years. Waste rock dumps have been re-sloped and planted with a variety of plants such as grass, shrubs, and trees. BCMEM's Coal Mountain MINFILE profile.