First Coal to apply for enviro approval on BC met coal mine

11th February 2010 By: Liezel Hill

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – First Coal Corporation (FCC) a privately-held company based in Vancouver, plans to begin a provincial environmental assessment (EA) process for its Central South metallurgical coal project, in northeast British Columbia.

The company had planned to begin operations first under a 'small mine' permit, at a production rate of 245 000 t/y of coal, which would not have required EA approval.

The plan was to later go ahead with the EA process, which takes typically takes 18 to 20 months, and seek permitting for a three-million ton a year mine.

"The board has concluded that the best approach going forward is to forego the small mine phase and immediately begin the environmental assessment process," CEO Doug Smith said in a statement.

"This will mean that there will only be one permitting process and the mine would open at a higher annual rate of production, making it more profitable in the early years than previously contemplated."

Demand for northeastern British Columbia metallurgical coal has increased, as China ramps up steel production and increases imports of metallurgical coal.

Coal mined at FCC's Central South property would be transported to Prince Rupert's Ridley Island coal terminal through an existing rail line running near the property, the company said.