Greenhills Mine

Commodities: Primarily metallurgical (coking) coal and small amounts of thermal coal.

Location: Above the Elk River Valley, 8 km from Elkford, BC.

Geology and Type of Deposit: Greenhills Mine is located in the Foreland belt of the Canadian Cordillera. Twenty mineable coal seams have been identified with thicknesses of 1 – 13 m. Like all other coal deposits in the area, Greenhills coal occurs in the Jurassic-Cretaceous Mist Mountain Formation of the Kootenay Group that consists of sandstone, siltstone and shale. These rocks were folded and faulted during mountain building, repeating the sequence that contains coal.

The Operation: Mining began at Greenhills in 1983, suspended briefly in 1992, before resuming full operations in 1993. Greenhills Mine is one of the five metallurgical coal mines in southeastern BC that is owned and operated by Teck Coal Ltd. The mine currently produces 5.2 million tonnes of cleaned coal per year. Based on current rates, Greenhills reserves are projected to last for another 55 years.

Mining Method: Mining is done by conventional open pit coal mining methods. Blasting is done 3-4 times per week. The blasting creates 15 m high benches once the waste rock has been removed. Large shovels load waste rock onto haul trucks that transport the material to nearby waste rock dumps. Bulldozers clean the top of the coal seams and push coal towards the loaders. The coal is transported to a crusher.

Processing: Crushed coal is transported to the was plant where it is separated from other sedimentary rock particles. It passes through a flotation circuit for final cleaning, and conveyed to a dryer where excess water is removed. The clean dry coal is conveyed silos, where it is stored until it is loaded onto rail cars.

Markets: Greenhills coal is transported in rail cars 1,175 km from the mine to Westshore Terminals at Roberts Bank (Delta), Neptune Terminals in the Port of Vancouver, or to Ridley Terminal in Prince Rupert, where it is loaded onto bulk carriers and shipped to markets overseas, primarily Japan and South Korea. Greenhills also ships directly to buyers in Canada and Mexico.

Community and Employment: Greenhills employs 470 people. Most of the employees live in nearby Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie, and Crowsnest Pass.

Environmental Considerations: The Greenhills Mine is located high in the mountains of the Greenhills Range in the Rocky Mountains. These mountains are covered by pine and spruce forests and of sub-alpine meadows, all crossed with many small creeks that flow down into the Elk and Fording Rivers. This mine site will be reclaimed for use as wildlife habitat and forestry when mining has ended.

The plan is for most of the waste rock dumps to be re-sloped and re-vegetated and returned to elk and mountain sheep summer grazing areas. Trees will be planted on the slopes of these dumps to act as buffer areas for wind and snow. South-facing slopes of the mine will be re-vegetated for use as elk winter range. There are also plans for certain pits on the site to be allowed to fill with water to form new lakes that may be used for recreation in the future.

To date, 473 hectares (equivalent to 1164 football fields) have been reclaimed, including inactive waste rock dumps and pits, as well as areas around access roads, power lines, and settling ponds. So far more than 173,800 native tree seedlings have been planted, more than 525 hectares of waste rock dumps have been seeded and fertilized, nearly 535 hectares of waste rock dump have been re-sloped in preparation for future reclamation, and 1 land farm exits for soil remediation. There are 13 sampling sites spread throughout the property for monitoring and ensuring good water and air quality. Greenhills has also established special areas where reclamation research is being conducted on survival rates for different types of trees at high altitudes. These plots will provide important information for the development of more efficient and effective reclamation.

BCMEM's Greenhills MINFILE profile.