Teck Coal is in the prefeasability stage of an expansion project at their Fording River Operations (FRO), located northeast of Elkford.
The Castle Project is a result of exploration work done in the Castle Mountain area that found substantial coal reserves that could support FRO for many decades, according to Teck.
If the project moves forward, Castle would become the primary source of coal for FRO and would help them to maintain their current production rates. Since the project is still in the prefeasibility design stage, several assessments are ongoing.
Mine pit, spoil locations, tailings and infrastructure needs are currently under evaluation as well as further drilling to better define the scope of the coal reserves in the mountain. Teck is also conducting baseline environmental and social information collection.
Nic Milligan, Teck’s manager of social responsibility presented an overview of the project to District of Sparwood council on February 4. He outlined the project and was able to point out several key dates in the planning process moving forward.
According to information provided by Teck, they plan “to initiate the environmental assessment process of the Castle Project in early 2020 with submission of an initial project description.”
This initial project description will allow for feedback from a variety of sources, including government agencies, Indigenous nations, and communities. This feedback can then be incorporated into the project as planning moves ahead.
The current FRO has been in operation since 1972, with Teck taking ownership in 2008. There are currently 1,400 employees at the FRO location and a total of 295 million tonnes of coal produced. Production rates are sitting at about 8.5-9.5 million tonnes of coal per year. Fording River Operations represents one third of Teck Coal.
According to Teck, “Castle enables Teck to retain existing workforce and support local economy.”