Things are trucking along for HD Mining and their Murray River Coal project, located about 12.5 kilometres from town. The project is expected to produce about six million tonnes of met coal annually over the course of a 31-year mine life.
Jody Shimkus, VP environment and regulatory affairs for HD Mining says the mine will create about 600 direct and 700 indirect jobs for Canadians and $90 million in revenue for the government annually, $2.7 billion over the life of the project.
At the site, the decline is currently being constructed, says Shimkus. To limit the footprint, the project is utilizing the old Teck conveyor right of way for their portal.
She explains the benefits of long wall mining to include safety; newer technology and higher deposit recovery with less waste.
Shimkus says, “With the pressure on the met coal market, reducing production costs is a priority for everyone.”
Recent milestones include the arrival of the continuous miner on site, which was approved by regulators last week after a year-long approval process. This will be used to develop roadway leading down the decline in their south site.
The specialized equipment being used for this project underground, have to be flame proof and intrinsically safe. “It gets tested in these explosion testing tanks so that when we are using this equipment underground, we can be assured it meets all of the safety requirements and it’s flame proof,” she says.
The project has been granted permits for a 100,000 tonne bulk sample from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and a waste discharge permit from the Ministry of Environment for the bulk sample.
The temporary workers have only been approved for the bulk sample portion of the mine and Shimkus says, “Because we are using long wall mining, which is not in operation here, we have an approved labour market opinion to use temporary workers for the underground portion of the mine.”
HD Mining has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Northern Lights College to begin creating a training program. “We realized it is very difficult to develop a program when there is no underground mining going on, so the mining HR task force has created an underground mining steering committee to help work on the development of a curriculum and the skillset for underground mining training. As a Canadian employer, as it is a Canadian company, we are working to transition long wall mining skills and jobs to Canadians. The training we do, we have to have that translated.”
Outside of the underground part of the mining operation, workers will be needed for ground surface prep., environmental management and assessment and the mine construction and operation.
This includes their housing development of 43 duplex town houses in Tumbler, which has been a $15 million investment so far.
Though the units aren’t ready (yet), the equipment has been approved and about 30 workers are on site, assembling the machinery. “Firing up in about two weeks,” says Shimkus.
Though the bulk sample has been approved, the mine itself isn’t. Shimkus explains the coal seam is complicated and they will have to go down about 600 metres. They are hoping to start extracting coal “sometime in the next year”.
“We still need approval for the mine before talking about a workforce,” says Shimkus.