Vista Coal Mine Project, Alberta, Canada


Vista Coal Mine Project, Alberta, Canada

Coalspur's Vista coal project is located near Hinton in Alberta, Canada. It is one of the largest undeveloped coal mines in North America. Spread over an area of 9,984ha, the project is estimated to have a mine life of 30 years.

In January 2012, Coalspur completed a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) for the project. The BFS estimated the initial marketable reserves of the project to be 313mt. The front end engineering and design (FEED) of the project was completed in 2013. Investment in phase 1 of the project is estimated to be C$458m ($412m), while the phase II investment is estimated to be C$250m ($225m).

The mine is scheduled to be developed through open pit methods in two phases. The first phase, with a capacity of 6mtpa, is scheduled to commence production in mid-2015. The capacity is expandable up to 12mtpa in the second phase.

The Alberta Energy Regulator granted approval for the project in February 2014 paving way for finalising the detailed regulatory permits and licenses in 2014.

Geology of the Rocky Mountain-based Vista coal deposit and reserves

"It is one of the largest undeveloped coal mines in North America."

The Vista coal deposit is part of the Rocky Mountain range. It includes sediments of the Upper Cretaceous-Tertiary Saunders Group which consists of the Brazeau, Coalspur and Paskapoo formations.

Coal deposits are concentrated in the Coalspur and Paskapoo formations. The Coalspur is a 600m thick simple monocline formation of the Paleocene age. Economically feasible deposits are concentrated in the Paskapoo formation.

The measured and indicated reserves of the Vista coal mine are estimated at 1,030.9mt grading at 52%. The inferred resources are estimated at 290.7mt grading at 22%.

Coalspur formation mineralisation consisting of six continuous coal zones

The Coalspur formation consists of six continuous coal zones - Val d'Or, Arbour, McLeod, McPherson, Silkstone and Mynheer. The majority of the mineable resources are concentrated in the Val d'Or, McLeod and McPherson zones.

The Val d'Or zone has an average thickness of 31.75m and includes seven correlatable sub-seam plies. The McLeod zone includes three correlatable plies with an average thickness of 4.65m. The McPherson zone has an average thickness of 6.98m and includes four piles.

Mining method and coal processing facility of Alberta's Vista project

The Vista coal deposit includes 22km of gently dipping coal seams. This structure enables the use of truck and shovel mining methods to recover the ore. A clean coal strip ratio of 7:1 is expected during the first ten years and then 9.2:1 over the later life of the mine.

"Coalspur has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian National Railway (CNR) to develop a logistics supply chain for the mine."

The ore processing facility will include a run-of-mine (ROM) coal handling area and coarse coal handling area. The coal handling area will include two dump ROM bins with a capacity of 800t of ROM coal, a 3,500t/h apron feeder and a low speed twin roll primary sizer with a capacity to handle sizes up to 1.2m x 1.2m x 2.0m. The ROM coal will be crushed to a nominal size of 350mm and transferred to the coarse coal handling area.

The coarse coal handling area will include a secondary sizer which crushes the coal to a size of 125mm. The crushed coal will then be sent to two tertiary sizers to further crush it to a size of 50mm. Crushed coal is then sent to the coal processing plant.
The coal processing plant will have two modules with a capacity of 1,500t/h. Each module includes three cleaning circuits for nominal (-50mm+2mm), fine (-2mm+0.2mm) and ultrafine coal (-0.2mm).

The nominal circuit will wash the coal in large diameter dense medium cyclones. Fine coal will be washed using hindered bed separators and spirals. Ultrafine coal will be thickened in a processed fines thickener. Clean coal will be processed by two thermal dryers to reduce the surface moisture before being transported to markets.

Transporting and handling coal produced at Canada's Vista mine

The processed coal will be stored in a 450m long and 171m wide clean coal storage and reclaim facility located near the coal preparation plant.

Coalspur has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian National Railway (CNR) to develop a logistics supply chain for the mine. CNR's main rail line runs eight kilometres north of the mine.

CNR and Coalspur will build a 3,500mt/h capacity rail load out facility next to the main line to transport coal to the Ridley Island Terminal. Clean coal will be sent to the rail load out facility through an overland conveyor and a load out conveyor.

Coalspur has signed a contract with Ridley Terminals for the allocation of 8.5mtpa of port capacity for up to 21 years. The coal reaching the terminal will be loaded onto cape size vessels for exportation.

Contractors involved

Taggart has been chosen as the preferred engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project. The EPC contract is valued at $221m.

Financing

The phase 1 will be funded through a $300m senior debt facility from EIG Global Energy. The second phase is planned to be funded through the cash flows generated from the first phase.