The Echo Hill site is located approximately 44 highway kilometers north of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia adjacent to Highway 52 (the Heritage Highway). The total coal resource has been estimated at more than 80 million tonnes (measured and indicated), of which 48 million tonnes lies within the project area of interest.
Mining will be at a rate of 1.0 to 1.5 million tonnes per year, with a mine life of approximately 10 to 14 years. Coal will be extracted by means of a combination of contour and highwall auger mining, with progressive reclamation. Contour mining will follow the topographical features of the landscape along the coal sub-crop. The resulting bench will expose the coal seam and enable auger mining within the virtually horizontal coal seam.
The topography of the region consists of a series of north-south trending low ridge-edged plateaus incised by southerly flowing creeks.
The City of Dawson Creek and District of Tumbler Ridge are roughly equidistant to the Echo Hill property. Therefore, it is anticipated that support services will be derived from both communities throughout the project life.
The Project is unique in several key aspects and will have an extremely small environmental and aesthetic footprint. The proposed mining method both minimizes surface disturbance and provides for progressive reclamation, thereby reducing the potential for impacts on terrestrial and aquatic receptors. This is accomplished through:
- A reduced surface disturbance by executing contour bench mining
- Progressively reclaiming the contour bench to promote early vegetation establishment and limit water infiltration
Minimizing the mining disturbance area to approximately 20 hectares at any one time
- Employing a highwall auger to extract more than half of the overall tonnage mined while allowing the overlying material to remain intact, and
- Avoiding the need for a coal processing plant thereby reducing water usage and eliminating the need for both a coarse coal refuse location and a tailings facility
Hillsborough has submitted a Project Description (PD) to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office and is preparing to submit a PD to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. First coal release is scheduled for mid-2015 once all requisite authorizations have been obtained.