East Kootenay Coalfields

The East Kootenay Coalfields comprise three separate fields extending from the Montana border northward and known respectively as Flathead, Crowsnest, and Elk Valley coalfields. These are the most important coalfields of the province, having produced, since 1898, over 500 million tonnes of mainly metallurgical coal. All three fields are underlain by the Jura-Cretaceous Kootenay Group, which contains the 100 to 700 metres thick coal-bearing Mist Mountain Formation. Coal seams are found through out the formation though the thicker seams occur lower in the section. The formation contains from 4 to over 30 seams, which make up from 8% to 12% of the thickness of the formation. Cumulative coal thickness ranges up to over 70 metres. The area has experienced moderate to intense folding and thrust faulting, which has caused repetitions and structural thicken­ing of seams. Rank varies from low to high-volatile A bituminous though most of the coal is medium-volatile bituminous and of metallurgical grade.

All the coal mined from Teck’s five open-pit mines in the East Kootenay coalfields is exported. The Crowsnest coalfield, approximately 60,000 hectares in size, extends from southeast of Fernie to north of Sparwood. Coal Mountain Operations produces high-volatile A bituminous weak coking coal. Most of the coal comes from a single seam near the base of the Mist Mountain Formation. The Elkview Mine (formally the Balmer Mine) is located in the northern end of Crowsnest Coalfield. The mine produces medium-volatile hard coking coal, mainly from the bottom four seams in the Mist Mountain Formation.

There are three mines in the Elk Valley Coalfield. In the south the Line Creek Mine producing about two million tonnes of which about 0.5 million tonnes was thermal coal. The metallurgical coal is a medium-volatile hard coking coal. In the northern part of the Elk Valley coalfield, the Greenhills Mine produces four million tonnes of clean coal and the Fording River mine produces nine million tons annually. Both these mines produced coal from a large number of seams through a thick Mist Mountain section and consequently sell medium and high-volatile coking coal.