INNOVATION

INNOVATION

North Coal is looking to achieve a unique mine design based on best available technology. The North Coal mine design includes a unique combination of features which together will control sources of the primary parameters of concern (selenium, nitrate, sulphate and cadmium). The goal of the design is to minimize changes to water quality of Michel Creek as well as minimize landscape changes to the Michel Creek Valley using the principles of best available technology. Alternative mine designs were evaluated by a team of experts and the most favourable combination of design features was selected, based on environmental, economic, and social sustainability criteria. While all of the design features of the proposed design have been tested and proven individually never before of all been combined into one mine design in British Columbia.

North Coal’s innovative approach to Water Quality is a multi-pronged approach that focuses on Source Control plus Semi-Passive and Active Treatment systems: preventing contaminants from being released to natural water bodies. North Coal understands this this unique combination of features is required to meet the requirements of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan. The approach relies on three major components:

  • Maximize the amount of waste rock placed back into the open pits
    • This reduces the mine footprint and the size of the rock dumps outside the pits
    • This maximizes the volume of waste that will be “saturated” which, in turn, maximizes the potential for “passive” treatment for contaminants such as selenium and nitrates
    • At closure, the pits can become pit lakes, submerging all waste rock
    • Spill points from the pits can be controlled and kept to a minimum
  • Construct waste rock dumps to create low oxygen concentrations and minimize the entry of water
    • Build the dump from the bottom-up in 10m lifts
    • Compact the waste rock materials between lifts and on the active dump faces
    • Use coal plant rejects or other suitable materials such as mudstones as discrete layers co-mingled with the waste rock
    • Fine-grained materials will contribute to low oxygen concentrations
  • Water Management
    • Collection of surface water and groundwater
    • Drainage ditches, in-pit sump pumps
    • Sedimentation ponds to clarify mine run-off
    • Re-use and recycling of water during operations
    • No tailings ponds– water will be removed from processed tailings and the resulting dry tailings will be blended with waste rock