TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Canadian anthracite project developer Fortune Minerals and its joint venture (JV) partner Posco Canada (PosCan) have submitted to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) a revised project description for its flagship Arctos project in the coal-rich province.
Fortune said the revised project description was based on the current development plan, which included extending the Dease Lake railway line, in north-west BC by 150 km to the proposed mine along the existing railway roadbed. The mine plan was also amended to reflect a three-million-tonne-a-year production rate and to include modifications to reduce environmental impacts.
The company reported the CEAA had accepted the project description and was seeking public comment on the environmental assessment (EA) process and that the BCEAO had issued a Section 10 order that determined that the project would be reviewable and required an EA to proceed.
Significantly, the BCEAO had also submitted a request to the CEAA for ‘substitution’, which would streamline the EA process under a single regulatory body in BC, making the EA more efficient with the elimination of unnecessary duplication. A decision on the substitution application was expected in May.
"Substitution of the federal EA process enables cooperation between jurisdictions in the delivery of timely, high quality EAs to achieve the objective of a 'one project-one assessment' approach,” Fortune director of regulatory and environmental affairs Dr Richard Schryer said.
The JV partners in a joint statement said the project, referred to as the Arctos Anthracite JV (AAJV), had already been in the EA process for a previous development plan and most of the environmental baseline information for the mine site had already been collected.
The AAJV had been conducting significant additional environmental baseline studies for the proposed railway extension and to address gaps and update the mine baseline data to support permitting and detailed engineering designs.
Fortune also said the AAJV was targeting to submit its draft terms of reference in May. The final EA report would be filed in early 2014 to start the review process.
The Arctos anthracite project is one of the world's largest metallurgical coal projects, consisting of 16 411 ha of contiguous coal licences in north-west BC. The project is an international collaboration between Fortune (80%) and PosCan (20%), the Canadian subsidiary of South Korea's Posco, one of the world's largest steel producers.
The JV-partners had to date spent about $100-million on engineering, feasibility and environmental work for the project.
The Arctos project is located 330 km north-east of the Port of Prince Rupert and straddles the existing BC railway right-of-way. The roadbed for this railway was constructed in the 1970's by the BC government, but was never completed from the current terminus of track, 150 km south of the proposed mine at Minaret.
The railway right-of-way provides a simple brownfield access corridor to the Canadian National Railway from Minaret to the Ridley coal terminal in Prince Rupert for export of metallurgical coal products to overseas steel manufacturers and metal processors.
Based on the recently updated definitive feasibility study for the Arctos project, the proven and probable run-of-mine product reserves would support a 25-year mine life, contributing 500 direct jobs and 1 000 jobs in supporting activities and generating more than $10-billion in revenues and $900-million in combined federal and provincial taxes.
There also exists the opportunity to extend the mine life from a very large mineral resource base.
The company’s stock climbed 13.16% to C$0.43 apiece on Friday.