New coal mine project is in review process

A coal mine is set to begin construction in mid-2017 near the Crowsnest Pass.

A coal mine is set to begin construction in mid-2017 near the Crowsnest Pass. Riversdale Resources through its wholly owned subsidiary, Benga Mining, has applied for a permit to make a surface metallurgical coal mine, or open pit coal mine.

The project proposal consists of a mine and a coal processing plant. The processing plant will include an overland conveyor system and a new section of rail track.

The project is located in southwest Alberta, about seven kilometers north of Blairmore. The other three areas that the company is focusing on are Bellevue, Adanac and Lynx Creek.

Using a benchmark of four million tonnes per year, the company estimates that the mine lifespan is expected to be over two decades and begin in the late spring of 2019.

“The expected mine life is approximately 23 years, based on four million tonnes per year with operations expected to begin around second quarter of 2019 ramping up to full production within a year or two,” said Cal Clark, Manager of Sustainable Development in an interview with The Free Press.

He went on to state some of the variables that may change the start date of the project. “Start date will depend on when we receive a regulatory decision and obtaining the necessary permitting to commence construction. At the moment, we expect to begin construction in the second or third quarter of 2017.”

The regulatory review process is public. Riversdale Resources will hold more public events including information sessions.

“We expect to be holding a public information session in Sparwood in the second or third week of February according to the current regulatory review process timeline. The actual date will be confirmed toward the end of January,” said Clark.

The mine will be producing a mid volatile hard coking coal.  This product is most commonly used in the coke ovens of steelmakers, producing thin sheet products. Currently, Australia is the largest producer of hard coking coal.

“Grassy will join a handful of producers in Canada, USA and Australia supplying the seaborne

market for premium hard coking coals,” said Steve Mallyon, Managing Director of Riversdale Resources. “Consequently hard coking coal attracts the highest premium and Riversdale believe Grassy, due to its low mining and processing costs, will be competitive with the large Australian producers who dominate the current market.”

Over the project’s lifespan, there are expected to be 1,050 jobs created. Clark believes 640 of these jobs will be in Alberta and 410 in British Columbia. The Crowsnest Pass area is expected to land 245 jobs and 155 in Sparwood, bringing younger families to these communities.

The coal industry is currently in a downward trend. Riversdale believes that this is one of the best times to start a new project because the initial start-up costs are at a lower rate than if coal was in a higher demand.

“Riversdale’s team has tended to build mines during industry downturns as we find that the construction costs are significantly lower and there is less competition for equipment and specialist consultants,” said Mallyon.