Surface coal mining in Elk Valley, British Columbia

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 77, No. 871, 1984


Surface coal mining production from Elk Valley and area in southeastern British Columbia began in 1913. Since 1970, five open-pit mines have been put into production: Westar Mining's Harmer and Greenhills Operations; Fording Coal's Fording River Operation; Byron Creek Collieries' Coal Mountain Mine and Crows Nest Resources' Line Creek Operation. In 1983 these mines produced 14.9 million tonnes of raw coal at an average strip ratio of 4.9 bank cubic metres of waste to 1.0 tonne of raw coal. This is 70% of the estimated 21.1 M tonnes annual capacity. Multiple seams are recovered with truck/shovel and dragline equipment. There is a wide range of equipment types in use with a recent trend toward larger and more mobile equipment. Coal mining in Elk Valley involves advancing along strike in four steps: hangingwall waste removal; seam cleaning; coal recovery; and footwall waste removal. Each mine is unique in its approach to these four steps but the truck/shovel methods can be categorized into three main groups: seam dips < 35 degrees as at Harmer, Fording and Greenhills; seam dips 35 to 50 degrees as at Line Creek; and seam dips >50 degrees as at Byron Creek. Dragline mining at Fording involves both waste and coal removal by draglines.
Mots Clés: Elk Valley Mines, Surface coal mining, Hangingwall waste removal, Seam cleaning, Coal removal, Footwall waste removal