Report: APP CMHS Project 1

CSIRO advises that the information contained in this comprises general statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation. No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.

2.2.1. Overview

Canada holds 8.7 Bt of proven coal reserves and an additional 192 Bt of coal resource; more energy than that of oil, natural gas and oil sands combined. Canada ranks tenth in the world in total coal reserves with 4 Bt of bituminous coal and produced 64 Mt of coal from 24 mines (22 open pits and 2 underground mines) in 2008. Canada exports about 28 Mt of coal annually to 21 countries on five continents with an annual value of approximately $2 billion with Japan being the largest importer. Coal accounts for 8.9 % the primary energy source and 15 % of the electricity supply in Canada, as shown in Figure 6. Coal will continue to play an important role in Canada’s energy supply with sustainable mining practices and clean technology development and deployment.

Figure 6 Energy sources

Underground mining was once the dominant coal mining method used in Canada. Today, open pit surface mining is the primary method with only two underground coal mines currently operating in the country (Figure 7). Total saleable production from these underground mines is about 1.3 Mt per annum. Approximately 200 mine workers are employed in the underground sector. There are plans for another underground mine to commence within the next year or so.

Figure 7 Canadian coalfields

Grand Cache #7 Mine

Coal mining commenced in November, 2005 at the #7 Mine located on the north slope of Mt Hamel, Alberta (Figure 8). The thickness of 4 seam in this area ranges from 0.7 to 5.7 m and averages 4.3 m. The roof consists of approximately 1.0 m of carbonaceous shale overlain by sandstone and siltstones. This mine utilises the “Room and Pillar” method of underground mining and accesses the 4 Seam reserves from four in-seam portal entries.

The roadways are driven 2.1 m high and 6 m wide. They are developed in 12 m cuts with a remote controlled continuous miner moving from one roadway to another while a roof and side bolting machine moves in to support the roof and side walls. Roof support consists of wire mesh installed with mechanical bolts in a 1.4 m square pattern. The mine is the largest underground coal mining operation in Canada and has 5.2 million tonnes of saleable reserves.

Figure 8 Alberta coalfields

Quinsam Mine

Quinsam Coal Corporation has operated underground mines on Vancouver Island since 1991, following several years of surface mining. Quinsam is located just less than 30 km west of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Figure 9).

Continuous miners and shuttle cars are used to extract a low ash, low sulphur, bituminous thermal coal, using the room and pillar method of mining.

The coal deposit consists of four seams that trend northwest and dip uniformly to the northeast. The coal seams are about 2.6 m thick and are offset in some places by east-west trending faults.

Coal was first discovered in this area in 1920, yet mining did not begin until 1987. Originally, the coal was mined by open pit, but as of 1994 Quinsam has been entirely mined underground. The mine produces over 877,000 tonnes of high-volatile bituminous coal. Current exploration has identified some 13 million tonnes of coal, and an exploration program is now underway to expand on this.

Figure 9 British Columbian coalfields

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