MICHEL COAL PROJECT

The Project

Our mission is to provide a long-term, sustainable source of coking coal to the global market.  North Coal is proposing the development of the Michel Coal Project which has the potential for a 30 year mine life depending on the designed production rate. The project is located entirely on private lands and includes the Loop Ridge, Tent Mountain and Michel Head deposits.  The Loop Ridge deposit has had historical mining activity from the 60’s and the 90’s by previous owners and operators. The proposed Michel Coal Project is an open pit mining project adjacent to existing rail, road and power infrastructure.  The project is currently following the regulatory process to secure and obtain all necessary Environmental Assessment approvals, permits and licences in order to pursue the development of these deposits. It is the company’s primary objective to responsibly mine, process quality coking coal, and transport it to the nearest port for export to global buyers.  North Coal is committed to an open and transparent process as we plan the Michel Coal Project. North Coal will look to integrate consultation values into the mine design with the aim to leave a positive legacy of mining. We will work with all North Coal stakeholders to develop opportunities that will result in acceptable end land uses.

MINE DESIGN

North Coal’s design philosophy is focused on reducing potential environmental impacts.  In order to accomplish this philosophy, the engineering design is incorporating the results of environmental studies and consultations with the Ktunaxa Nation, communities, scientists, engineers, applicable regulators and other interested groups.  At this stage of the project, this process has identified the following features where potential environmental impacts will attempt to be reduced in the final design:

  • A pit design focused on controlling in-pit water and discharge points from the pit;
  • Return of rock, to the extent possible, to the in-pit areas to reduce potential selenium oxidation and metal leaching by creating saturated zones;
  • Bottom-up development of ex-pit rock storage areas with suboxic conditions to minimize selenium production and reduce to a minimum any metal leaching and acid rock drainage;  
  • Keeping non-contact (clean) water away from mine workings and returning it to streams;
  • Avoiding fish-bearing streams and minimizing flow alterations to streams;
  • Using progressive reclamation and rehabilitation to minimize the mine footprint; and
  • Active and semi-passive water treatment.  

All aspects of our mine plan have been designed to reduce risk, minimize impact and leave an environmentally-sound landscape that can be used in perpetuity.  Our overriding objective in everything we do is to make a meaningful contribution to social, economic and environmental health so that North Coal can leave a positive legacy for future generations. 

NOTABLE PROJECT FEATURES

North Coal has incorporated best practices and innovative technologies from around the world into the mine design to reduce waste generation, protect water resources, and minimize landscape alteration.  Some of the notable project features include:

  • The Project has a measured and indicated resource of greater than 100 million tonnes of Elk Valley quality hard coking coal;
  • The Project is located in Canada’s Crowsnest Coalfield, one of the world’s premier hard coking coal producing districts;
  • The Project is located on private fee simple lands;
  • The Loop Ridge deposit is a partial brownfield site.  Loop Ridge was previously mined in the 1960s and again in 1993 and 1998 under a Mines Act Permit;
  • Significant amounts of the project footprint have been harvested for timber resources in the past, which will continue into the future as per the harvesting operators plans;
  • The mine plan allows for progressive reclamation of the mining area over the life of mine;
  • The Project is planned to be mined and reclaimed in stages over the mine life with a single processing facility adjacent to existing rail, road and power infrastructure near the Loop Ridge Pit;
  • The existing railway will be used to transport product to an existing port on the west coast of B.C. for sales in the global export coking coal market, and to other domestic consumers;
  • North Coal is currently an active participant of the Elk Valley Cumulative Effects Management Framework (CEMF) Working Group, which is under the joint leadership of the Ktunaxa Nation and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations;
  • All Project water management strategies will be consistent with the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP); and
  • Consultation and engagement with the Ktunaxa commenced in 2013 and will continue throughout the life of the Project.

PROPOSED OPERATIONS

Currently, it is estimated that the resources in the three deposits will support an up to 30 year mine life depending on the production rate. Annual production rates of between 2.3 – 4 million tonnes raw coal will be considered.

In general terms, the Project being proposed will consist of:

  • Construction and upgrading of access roads and development of a product loading facility and railway siding connecting the North Coal property to the existing railway line;
  • Construction of a laydown area, power corridors, fuel storage area and fueling stations at each deposit;
  • Water management systems designed to be consistent with the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan;
  • Construction of office, maintenance and coal processing plant facilities with associated stockpile areas, water treatment and sewage facilities;
  • Development of an explosives storage area and delivery system;
  • Removal and temporary storage of soil in stockpiles for re-use during progressive decommissioning and reclamation;
  • Development of mine pit excavations at Loop Ridge, Tent Mountain and Michel Head, at stages over time;
  • Development of rock stockpile areas at each of the three mine pits;   
  • Production of dry stack tailings for co-deposition with rock in a purpose-built management facility;
  • Relocation of an existing pipeline owned by TransCanada that runs through the Loop Ridge deposit;
  • Progressive decommissioning and reclamation;
  • Rehabilitation of areas where mining and backfilling have been completed during the life of mine to meet agreed final land use objectives; and
  • Final decommissioning and closure according to closure “endpoints” that will be developed in consultation with applicable regulators, the Ktunaxa Nation, local communities and other interested groups.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT/MANAGEMENT

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the BC Environmental Assessment Office have produced guidelines for the Environmental Assessment (EA) that North Coal will follow to systematically consider how the proposed project and its operations interact with the environment. Please see the links below for more information on the project and regulatory process.

BC Environmental Assessment Office – https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/michel-creek-coking-coal/detail

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency – http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80110?culture=en-CA

 

Project Description

After initially submitting a Project Description in late 2015 North Coal decided to pause the regulatory process to allow further time to explore our license area, collect baseline data, and optimize mine design. North Coal is now ready to re-enter the Environmental Assessment (EA) process with a revised Project Description to be submitted soon.  The primary purpose of the Project Description is to provide information about the project and assist the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) in making a determination whether a “reviewable project” requires an Environmental Assessment (EA). Secondary purposes of the Project Description include:

  • Assisting EAO in establishing the scoping of indigenous consultation and public consultation requirements;
  • Communicating information about the project to the public, First Nations and government agencies and, in some cases, forming the basis of public consultation on the project;
  • Initiating thinking with respect to the valued components (VCs) to be included in the EA; and
  • Informing the development of Application Information Requirements, which specify the matters that must be studied and the information that must be included in an application for an EA certificate.  

ELK VALLEY WATER QUALITY PLAN

North Coal recognises that it is planning to operate in a watershed that already has various water quality concerns as noted in the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP) also known as the Area Based Management Plan. North Coal is committed to integrate effective mine design, water management, rock management and passive treatment to meet targets outlined in the EVWQP. North Coal intends to work with all levels of government and other Elk Valley industries to meet the intent of the EVWQP.

North Coal is committed to the following principles for achieving acceptable water quality:

  1. Innovation: a unique combination of design features focused on controlling the source of the contaminants of concern before they can reach natural water bodies;
  2. Continuous Improvement: timely and accurate monitoring of performance of our mine design, pre-determined actions we can take if performance is not satisfactory, and staying informed about advances in technology; and 
  3. Collaboration: working with government agencies, the Ktunaxa Nation, community, and technical specialists to ensure we continue to benefit from all sources of information and understanding regarding water quality.

Please see the link below for more information on the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan and a link to download the Plan.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/waste-management/industrial-waste/mining-smelting/teck-area-based-management-plan

ELK VALLEY CUMULATIVE EFFECTS MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

North Coal is committed to managing its potential effects in the Elk Valley and is joining up with Government – Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) industry and the Ktunaxa Nation in managing cumulative effects in the Elk Valley.

We understand community concerns about water quality and have introduced innovative water management features into our mine design to comply with the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan.  We also recognize the importance of taking a balanced approach to resource development. North Coal has been an active member of the Elk Valley Cumulative Effects Management Framework for 4 years and is committed to collaborating with other industry players to reduce the cumulative effects of our operations.

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

Future Environment Documentation 

  • Environmental Assessment
    • Project Description
    • Valued Components
    • Draft Application Requirements
    • Environmental Application
  • Mines Act Permitting
  • Regulatory Documentation
  •  

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 parameters of concern. 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 principle 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.

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 rock that will be “saturated” which, in turn, maximizes the potential for “passive” treatment for contaminants such as selenium and nitrates
    • At closure, the pits will become pit lakes, submerging all rock within them
    • Spill points from the pits can be controlled and kept to a minimum
  • Construct rock storage structures to create low oxygen concentrations and minimize the entry of water
    • Build the dump from the bottom-up in 10m lifts
    • Compact the 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 waste rock
    • Fine-grained materials will contribute to low oxygen concentrations
    • Progressive reclamation of bottom up rock storage facilities utilizing soil and vegetation materials to assist with the reduction of water infiltration
  • 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 – water will be removed from processed tailings and the resulting dry tailings will be blended with waste rock