NWP Coal is the company pushing the Crown Mountain project. (Photo courtesy of NWP Coal)

NWP Coal is the company pushing the Crown Mountain project. (Photo courtesy of NWP Coal)

Crown Mountain project inches forward

Another coal mine for the Elk Valley is in the works

Sparwood is getting closer to having another coal mining operation on its doorstep, with the district council receiving an update on the Crown Mountain coking coal project from the proponent of the project, NWP Coal.

According to the general manager of NWP Coal, Mike Allen, the company has been moving forward with its studies and project plans for the project to submit to both provincial and federal authorities for assessment.

Allen said that due to delays brought about by the pandemic, NWP Coal would be ready to submit its applications for provincial and federal assessment in the first quarter of 2021.

Crown Mountain, which sits to the northeast of Teck’s Elkview operations is envisaged as a 3.7 million tonne per-year coal mine with an operations lifespan of 15 years.

Coal mined at Crown Mountain would be hauled from the site to the rail line to the West.

The company pushing forward with the project, NWP Coal, is owned by two companies based in Australia and New Zealand – Jameson Resources and Bathurst Resources.

Bathurst is the largest coal mining company in New Zealand, where it produces three million tonnes per year.

By comparison, Teck’s combined operations in the Elk Valley produced 25.7 million tonnes of coking coal in 2019.

In his presentation to Sparwood councillors, Allen said that the company had a way to manage selenium runoff that it believed would adequately mitigate the issue, where waste rock was sandwiched between layers of rejected coarse coal to create an oxygen barrier.

Allen said the process was similar, and as effective as Teck’s saturated rock-fill water treatment facilities in the valley, which use a biological process to reduce selenium levels.

“As the oxygen is consumed, the bacteria reduces the selenium to a level that it in line with an active water treatment plant,” said Allen, who added that the technology had been developed independently of what Teck was doing with their selenium management program.

‘We have gone by ourselves on this … relative to the size of the company, we have invested a significant amount of money in coming up with this and testing it.”

The Crown Mountain coking coal project would generate 500 construction jobs over a 19-month estimated construction time, with 330 full-time positions to be available at a fully operational mine if approved as it currently stands.

The company timeline for the project estimates that if all approvals go to plan and stay on schedule, construction should be able to begin in the third quarter of 2022 at the earliest.

READ MORE: Sparwood council defers endorsing Teck dust management plan

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