Mining Week in British Columbia? Projects, People and Power

We thought our readers might be interested in the journey that coal makes from the coal seams to its final destination to the world?s steel mills.

The President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Ridley Terminals Inc.(RTI) in Prince Rupert Greg Solcombe provided some interesting facts on Tumbler Ridge?s coal.

There are two Tumbler Ridge mining operations shipping coal using the services of RTI. Western Canadian Coal and Peace River Coal benefited from the railway access that was in place after the Quintette- and Bullmoose Mine closure. The rail line put in place in 1982 was part of the $1.5 billion northeast coal project, the largest undertaking in the province at that time.

It only takes about 36 hours to get the coal to Prince Rupert via railway. There are rail cars arriving in the port of Prince Rupert every day. In a fully automated RTI facility the coal is moved from trains to ships with a loading rate of 9,000 tonnes per hour. Depending on the car type it takes three to seven hours to unload one car (max. weight 286,000 lb). The RTI has a storage capacity of 1.2 Million tonnes and annual shipping capacity of 24 million tonnes. There are about 100 ships going out annually from RTI with destination in Asia, South Korea, Japan, China, Brazil, Europe, and even India. Most of the ships load 70,000 tonnes but some have a smaller capacity of 40,000 tonnes or larger with 180,000 tonnes. The water depth and draft are important elements when it comes to handling larger ships.

The largest vessel so far was 250,000 DWT but RTI berth-side depth of 22 metres can handle vessels up to 350,000 DWT (Deadweight Ton= ship?s capacity for cargo, fuel oil, stores and crew, measured in metric tons of 1000 kilograms). Once the cargo is processed the vessel can reach the final destination, for example Japan, in 11 days.

70- 75 per cent of the total throughput comes from Tumbler Ridge. The remaining portion is the coal from Alberta and other products like petroleum coke or wood pellets.

Environment protection at RTI includes complete railcar washing immediately after unloading and vacuum and filtration system. The benefit of RTI as the service provider for Tumbler Ridge mining industry is not only the strategic location with year-round operation but also the capacity to handle increased shipments from new mines. TRI is a federal crown corporation.

Director of Communications Barry Bartlett said that the coal shipments from Tumbler Ridge in the first quarter of 2008 were 1,435,728 tonnes compared with 816,694 tonnes in the first quarter of 2007.

This is a positive trend in Tumbler Ridge?s coal mining industry.