The British Columbia Ministry of Economic Development, working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs began planning in 1976 to develop a district that would cover 150,000 hectares, with a townsite of five kilometres. A conceptual plan was developed to create a ?socially cohesive, financially viable, self-governing community, conducive to attracting and retaining a stable work force?.
The Northeast Coal Development received approval for development in 1980. Key stakeholders in the project were Quintette Mining, Bullmoose, (Teck) the Ridley Island port developer, provincial and federal governments, financial institutions, rail companies and BC Hydro.
The planning for the townsite and the mines took into account environmental, recreational, energy, wildlife, geo-technical, hydrological and biological impacts. The planners of the day noted that the placement on Tumbler Ridge on the southwestern slope of the mountain allowed for maximum solar radiation.
Officially opened on August 10, 1984 Quintette Operating Corp. was Canada?s largest surface coal mine and was fully computerized. The company employed approximately 1000, reaching a peak of 1,850 employees in 1983. 14 percent of the workforce were female.