Consultancy firms outline progress at two North American coal properties
By Donna Schmidt, Field Editor
Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And seldom has that been more accurate in coal mining than right now.
Yes, everyone is painfully aware that the market has seen better days. From personal conversations at the office to industry event mixers, it is a topic of conversation that never seems to go away. Let’s be truthful, though: this isn’t the first time it has happened, and opportunity — as always — is what you make of it.
There is good news out there, and some of it stems from the hard work of mining consultancy firms that are helping those forward-thinking miners take advantage of a period of relative quiet and greater cost efficiency. When the market returns to its former condition, which is just a matter of time in this cyclical industry, two operations will be ready thanks to the assistance of their respective consultants.
Permitting & Feasibility
The Grassy Mountain coking coal property is located north of Blairmore, a Rocky Mountain town of about 3,000 located 160 kilometers southwest of Calgary near the British Columbia border in southern Alberta, Canada. Riversdale Resources, an Australian junior mining company, acquired the property in 2013, on the heels of extremely successful mining ventures in Mozambique and South Africa.
The site features significant historic and recent exploration, close access to the Canadian Pacific rail line (just 2 km away) and a mining-friendly location less than 40 km from the Elk Valley, home to Canada’s largest coking coal operations. Riversdale is in the process of a staged project development including exploration, feasibility analysis, environmental assessment, and project construction and commissioning of a 4-million-metric-ton-per-year (mtpy) coking coal mining, processing and rail loading complex.
The Grassy Mountain project features multiseam, moderately to steeply dipping, folded and faulted geology typical of Canadian Rocky Mountain coking coal deposits. The seams strike along a generally north-south direction for over 6 km in the 14,000-hectare lease boundary. The project is planned to include an open-pit mine, in-pit and ex-pit waste dumps, run-of-mine (ROM) coal dump and hopper facilities feeding a coal preparation plant, rail loop and rail loading facilities, and associated electrical distribution, maintenance and warehousing, and administrative facilities. The project area has been subject to extensive historical exploration, including more than 360 drill holes and a test pit.
Riversdale intended from the start to pursue a managed sequence of field studies, development of design criteria, studies, designs and approvals to speed the initial deliveries of coal. Toward this end, they selected professional service providers based on track records with successful mining ventures, direct experience in and around the project site, and ability to efficiently deliver value within a challenging development schedule. The project execution plan by nature includes concurrent production of regulatory applications and a feasibility study, which will start the process for mine permits and continue the engineering and design phases for project implementation.
Toward that end, Riversdale assembled a team of specialist professional services firms to complete the myriad of investigations, analyses, designs and estimates comprising the full development work plan. Leading the efforts in mine planning, mine and foundation geotechnical