September 27th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 39
Grassy Mountain Coal project update at Chamber meeting
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
The above map shows the footprint of the Grassy Mountain Project. See story for an
explanation of each section.
Pass Herald Reporter
Claire Rogers, the new manager of community relations for Riversdale Resources, was this month’s speaker at the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Rogers gave a general overview and update on the Grassy Mountain Project and talked about some of Riversdale’s community initiatives.


Her presentation started off with a bit of trivia where, for each question that the audience answered correctly, Riversdale donated $50 to a charity of the Chamber’s choice. By the end of the luncheon, Riversdale donated a total of $250 which will go towards the Creative Minds beautification project at the swimming pool, says the Chamber’s office manager Jackie Woodman

Riversdale Resources is close to wrapping up the regulatory phase of the project.

They plan to be mining metallurgical (steelmaking) coal on the site of the former Grassy Mountain Mine for an area covering approximately 1500 ha (3700 acres). According to Rogers, the coal in that area has been tested by steelmakers globally with consistent results showing a high quality of product.

The lifespan of the project is expected to be about 25 years. When fully operational, Riversdale expects to produce 4.5 million tonnes of coal per year, says Rogers.
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Riversdale submitted a complete integrated application and supporting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in August 2016. An addendum to the EIA was submitted in January 2017, containing the final fisheries and aquatics and wildlife results from the 2016 field programs. According to Rogers, the EIA document consists of over 7,000 pages of studies that assess the potential impacts of the project to air quality, noise levels, vegetation and wetlands, wildlife, biodiversity, land use, water quantity and quality, groundwater, soils, social and economic impacts, and human health.

Riversdale is currently waiting for the AER to issue a public Notice of Application, which is expected within the next couple of weeks, followed by a decision whether the province intends to proceed to a Joint Panel Review with the federal government. A Joint Panel Review is a public process and would involve a public hearing to discern the views, issues and concerns of individuals and communities before a decision is made.
The regulatory decision process will take between 12 and 18 months. If approved, the construction phase is expected to take 21 months and would begin immediately with the goal of starting production Q4 2020. This timeline is completely dependent on the permitting timeline. While Riversdale waits for a regulatory decision, there is a lot to do to get ready. “In the meantime, the Riversdale team will move into the operational readiness phase”, says Rogers, “There is a huge amount of activity happening behind the scenes as we work on plans for project design and operations. This is where we get everything ready to begin construction like selecting contractors, finalizing infrastructure design, ordering equipment, developing operating processes, establishing our corporate culture and building our team to manage the project.”

Rogers says a workforce of approximately 380 people is anticipated once the mine is in full production.

Community members can expect updated visual materials and project information to be added to the Riversdale website in the coming weeks. Rogers will also be writing a bi-weekly column in the Pass Herald with updates on the project, and a community newsletter will be published quarterly.
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Common concerns

Rogers noted that a common concern raised by the community is about increased dust from operations. The EIA describes the measures Riversdale will employ to avoid, minimize and mitigate dust. For instance, coal stockpiles will be located at the mine site, near the processing plant, and not at the train load out. A covered conveyor will be used to transport the coal from the mine to the train load out facility where it will be loaded directly into coal cars for transport. Active dust suppression will be used on roadways and exposed coal surfaces. Vehicle traffic will be limited and reduced speed limits enforced, and coal leaving on trains will be treated with a spray to minimize the amount of dust during transport to the port facility.

Another common concern is the restoration of the landscape. Throughout the mine life, Riversdale will conduct progressive reclamation meaning that as the mine progresses, areas that are no longer active (beginning around year seven) will be reclaimed, allowing for quicker restoration of the mine site. Waste rock dumps and mine pit areas will be capped with top soil, and re-vegetated using native species.

What will the mine look like?

Cal Clark, manager of sustainable development for Riversdale Resources, presented Council with a map of the mine footprint at a Special Meeting on August 30. Below are the various infrastructure features associated with the Grassy Mountain Coal Project.

Mine waste disposal area – There are three mine waste disposal sites outlined in yellow (the south dump, central dump and north dump). This is where waste material (rock, waste coal) from the mine and the coal processing facility will be deposited. As the mine progresses, the pit will also be filled with waste material prior to being reclaimed.

Existing disposal site – The area indicated by the hash marks shows the extent of waste material from the previous mine operations at Grassy Mountain that currently exists beyond the proposed new mine pit boundary.
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Open pit area – This is the area that will be mined from the south end progressing north, then moving east and north again. The mine is constrained in a narrow watershed between Blairmore Creek and Gold Creek.

Plant – The main facilities of the project (coal processing plant, maintenance sheds), explosive equipment and all three coal stockpiles are located here.

Transmission line - In the initial project application, Riversdale had proposed relocating the existing 500 kV line running through the mine. In its recent application, Riversdale decided to split the south waste dump and avoid the need to relocate the transmission line. “It reduces our environmental impact and saves us a lot of money,” says Clark.

Topsoil storage area – Top soil will be removed during the construction phase and stored here for use during reclamation.

Road & conveyor – Grassy Mountain Road will be altered slightly and will run parallel to the covered conveyor that will bring the coal down to the load out facilities.

Railroad track – Here, the coal will be loaded onto CP Rail trains and transported to Vancouver, where it will be shipped to overseas markets. A screen of trees will be planted that will block the view of the railroad from Hwy 3.

Existing mine footprint – The Grassy Mountain Project will be operated on the land of a legacy strip mine that was abandoned in the early 1960s. The total mine footprint (including load out, ponds, facility, dumps, mine, etc.) is approximately 1,500 hectares. The area has a history of various land uses (mining, forestry, grazing, recreation) and approximately 25% of the mine footprint was part of the previously disturbed Grassy Mountain mine.
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Sedimentation ponds – There are three sedimentation ponds in the project: the northeast and east pond, which are indicated on the map, and the southwest pond, just left of the plant. The purpose of the sedimentation ponds is to capture runoff from the site itself; mostly natural flow, not contact water. The sedimentation ponds capture sediment that might be present in the water.

Pit border - The pit extent is this black line.

Surge pond – Two surge ponds capture runoff water that has been in contact with the coal and waste rock and therefore may have elevated levels of metals (like selenium) which could require treatment prior to its release into the surrounding creeks. Through a series of ditches and pipelines, water captured in the surge ponds is redirected to the central raw water pond to be used in the processing plant or injected into the saturated backfill zones where the selenium will be removed.

Raw water pond - Most of the water used in operations will come from the raw water pond (RWP). This pond will be one of the first things built once the construction phase begins. The RWP will collect and store any water that may have been exposed to contaminants from the coal operations. As the pond fills, excess water will be injected into the saturated backfill zones where it will be treated and tested prior to being released back into the environment.
September 27th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 39
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