New coal mine proposed in Sparwood

A new coal-mining project in its preliminary stages has been presented to Elk Valley council.

A new coal-mining project in its preliminary stages has been presented to Elk Valley council.

Located midway between the established Elkview and Line Creek Teck mines, the Crown Mountain Coking Coal project will be the first to be established by junior resource company NWP Coal Canada Limited in the Elk Valley.

According to NWP Chairman and CEO Art Palm, the open pit mine is expected to produce 1.7 million tonnes of coal per year over a 16-year lifespan.

Palm stressed that the project was in its primary stages.

“I think it’s important to understand that we’re very early in the phase and we have a lot of work to do still,” said Palm, adding, “We’re in the pre-application portion of the environmental assessment phase.”

It is expected that this portion of the assessment will be conducted for at least a year.

Palm will present an overview of the project to the District of Sparwood’s council on Monday, March 30 at the Committee of the Whole Meeting — having already conducted similar talks with the City of Fernie, District of Elkford and the Crowsnest Pass.

“We’re going to talk about the project, the amount of coal that’s there, the quality of the coal, the general location and I’m going to review all the environmental parameters that we have addressed to date,” said Palm ahead of the presentation. “I’ll also show the environmental study area and go over some of the environmental work we’ve done in terms of groundwater, fisheries and wildlife.”

Palm said that though there is still much work to do, ideally construction for the project would move forward in 2016-17, with production hoped for 2017-18.

The current capital budget is slated for $336 million, though revisions can be expected following results from the environmental assessment, definitive feasibility studies and other design factors.

He noted, “But there’s so much left to do with permitting so it’s really hard to pinpoint a date.”

Community input in the form of open houses can be expected to open up during the summertime, according to Palm.

“We have a lot of hoops to jump through to prove we can put a mine in the Elk Valley and still meet all the regulations,” said Palm. “We think it’s quite an attractive project for a company of our size and we look forward to moving onward.”

NWP also owns four other projects in the Peace River area.