Coal mine gives glim­mer of hope to Grande Cache

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - Ian McInnes

The town of Grande Cache lost around 400 jobs when the coal mine op­er­ated by Chi­nese owned Grande Cache Coal (GCC) sus­pended op­er­a­tions in 2015. With a pop­u­la­tion of a lit­tle over 4,300 some of which have left the area now, the job losses, which re­port­edly rep­re­sented around a third of Grande Cache’s jobs, came as a bit­ter blow.

Not all of the jobs at GCC were taken by lo­cals. How­ever, the ef­fect on the lo­cal econ­omy has meant hard­ships in an al­ready slow econ­omy. Now there is some hope on the hori­zon, pre­sum­ably be­cause GCC’s op­er­a­tion at Grande Cache mined rel­a­tively rare me­tal­lur­gi­cal cok­ing coal used for mak­ing steel, which is mak­ing some­what of a come­back. Ther­mal coal pro­duc­tion is not so likely to make a re­turn any­time soon as coal burn­ing power sta­tions are closed across the globe.

In Jan­uary 2016, GCC filed an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Al­berta Energy Reg­u­la­tor (AEG), for ap­proval for its 12 South A Un­der­ground Mine Project. Now, be­cause of an up­date pub­lished by GCC there is a lot more meat on the bones for min­ing in Grande Cache once again.

On Novem­ber 21 GCC re­vealed in an reg­u­la­tory up­date that it has sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the AEG to lift the sus­pen­sion of sur­face op­er­a­tions to the No. 8 Mine and CPP (Coal Pro­cess­ing Plant) that was sus­pended in Fe­bru­ary 2015. GCC said that sub­ject to share­holder’s ap­proval and the ne­go­ti­a­tion of key con­tracts it ex­pected to re­sume sur­face min­ing op­er­a­tions by the end of the first quar­ter of 2017 with the CPP be­com­ing oper­a­tional again within a month af­ter­wards; pre-pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties are ex­pected to start in Jan­uary 2017. GCC said that is seek­ing an ad­di­tional six years of min­ing ap­proval be­yond the two and half years that are al­ready li­cenced.

Re­gard­ing un­der­ground op­er­a­tions GCC said that it is in­tend­ing to sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion to mine four seams of the No 12 South B2 op­er­a­tion. GCC has al­ready sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions for its 12 South A Un­der­ground Mine Project and said it will sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion for recla­ma­tion of the aban­doned No 7-4 Un­der­ground Mine Area.

GCC has in­di­cated that it has ten­ta­tively sched­uled an open house in Grande Cache on De­cem­ber 14 where more in­for­ma­tion will be avail­able re­gard­ing its plans for 2017 and be­yond; more in­for­ma­tion will be posted by GCC when the open house date and venue is confirmed.

On Novem­ber 21 GCC re­vealed in an reg­u­la­tory up­date that it has sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to the AEG to lift the sus­pen­sion of sur­face op­er­a­tions to the No. 8 Mine and CPP (Coal Pro­cess­ing Plant) that was sus­pended in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

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