George Cinna photo
By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Shootin’ the Breeze
Crowsnest Pass council received project proposal updates from two different coal mine companies to round off November.
On Nov. 25, Cabin Ridge Project Ltd. presented an update to council regarding its coal exploration drilling activities.
The Alberta company, owned by a private family group from Australia called Warburton Group, received drilling permits from the Alberta Energy Regulator in September and has been drilling since October.
Warburton is familiar with the Crowsnest area, having been the former owner of Benga Mining. It also has close to 20 per cent shares in Atrum Coal.
The potential mining area is located some 50 kilometres north of Coleman, adjacent to the Oldman River. The mine’s area is 4,678 hectares and has an estimated 100 million tonnes of metallurgical coal.
Cabin Ridge hopes to complete a pre-feasibility study by 2022 to determine if further regulatory approval will be sought for development.
On Dec. 1, Teck Resources updated council on its Fording River Operations Castle project.
Located 29 kilometres northeast of Elkford, the Fording River site currently produces about nine million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year. Since the mine is now entering the end of its project life, Teck Resources is pursuing a proposed extension of Fording River Operations to the neighbouring Castle Mountain.
The Castle Mountain project would be able to make use of the existing infrastructure at Fording River to process the coal before being transported by rail to the west coast for shipping.
Teck estimates the mountain contains 360 million tonnes of metallurgical coal, which is enough to carry operations to 2070.
The project is in its infancy as pre-feasibility studies are ongoing. The company hopes to receive provincial and federal government approval by 2023.
Since over 400 Teck workers reside in Crowsnest Pass, a stronger community partnership needs to be established, said Coun. Lisa Sygutek.
“I’ve been on council for three years and I’ve seen Teck twice,” she said. “It’s really nice to see you here, and I think as a community partner, I would like to see you come a little bit more often to give us an update on what you guys are doing.”
Coun. Sygutek also questioned how much Teck Resources invests in community organizations in Crowsnest Pass as compared to Fernie, which is about the same distance away from the mine.
“As a partner of Teck, we should be getting our fair share of that resource,” she said.
Though not having a firm figure, Norman Fraser, Teck’s senior lead for indigenous and community affairs, estimated about $100,000 had been directly spent in Crowsnest Pass as community investment.
“The program is based on applications and interest from non-profit and community organizations,” Mr. Fraser explained.
He said Fernie likely received more funding from Teck simply “because we don’t get as many requests from the Pass.”
A more detailed comparison will be provided by Teck at its next presentation to council.