Line Creek Mine
Commodities: Metallurgical (coking) coal and thermal coal
Location: 25 km north of Sparwood, BC.
Geology and Type of Deposit: Line Creek 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, Line Creek 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: Surface mining began at Line Creek in 1981. It is one of the five coal mines in southeastern BC that are owned and operated by Teck Coal Ltd. Line Creek produced 3.3 million tonnes of cleaned coal in 2016. Based on current production rates, and proven and probable reserves, mining is expected to continue until 2040.
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 wash plant where it is put through a series of screens, flotation devices, and heavy media cyclones to separate the coal from the waste rock. The cleaned and dried is conveyed to a stockpile, placed in a silo at the load-out facility, and held until it is loaded onto rail cars for shipping.
Markets: Line Creek metallurgical coal is loaded into rail cars and transported to Westshore Terminals at Roberts Bank (Delta). There, it is loaded onto bulk carriers transported to buyers in Japan, Korea, Brazil and USA. Some Line Creek coal is railed east to Thunder Bay Terminals in Ontario, to be shipped to eastern North American Markets. Thermal coal, which is used both to generate electricity and in the making of cement, is trucked from the mine to Western Canadian markets.
Community and Employment: Line Creek Mine employs 500 people. Most employees live in the communities of Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie, and Crowsnest Pass.
Environmental Considerations: The area surrounding Line Creek mine is a mountainous region with steep valleys which provides excellent habitat for bighorn sheep and elk. Although the footprint of the mine is only 1900 ha, the Line Creek drainage system has been affected by mining activity. In 2016 a water treatment plant was commissioned at the mine to biologically remove selenium and nitrates from the surface water collected around the mine site. Close monitoring of air and water quality ensures the quality of the environment is within permit limits. At the time of closure, reclamation efforts will focus on providing habitat for wildlife, as well as establishing some self-sustaining forested areas. These activities include re-contouring waste rock to more stable slopes that can be seeded and planted with local tree seedlings, so that vegetation is re-established.
BCMEM's Line Creek MINFILE profile.