Top active coal mines in Canada

Canada's coal industry is alive and well, with a bright future ahead

by Danielle Cameron
coal truck driving guests on a Teck mine tour in the Elk Valley

Teck has five steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley region of British Columbia. — Brielle Will photo

Canadian coal is sought after all across the globe, as it serves an important role in energy, steelmaking and other high-demand sectors. More than 90 per cent of Canadian coal deposits have been found in the western provinces, which is a key advantage, due to the proximity of west coast ports. 

Two kinds of coal can be mined here. Metallurgical coal, which is also known as coking coal, is used in smelting processes (smelting iron to make steel, for example) and tends to have low ash, sulfur and phosporous content. Thermal coal, on the other hand, is used for heat and power production, and tends to come from the peat, lignite and sub-bituminous ranges of coal. 

These are the top active coal mines currently operating in Canada:

Cardinal River Operations

Location: 42 kilometres south of Hinton, Alberta

Owner: Teck

Annual production: 2 million tonnes

Cardinal River produces metallurgical coal to be used in steelmaking, exporting to the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. 

Coal Valley Mine

Location: Edson, Alberta

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC

Annual production: 3 million tonnes

This 20,660-hectare surface mine produces 3 million tonnes of bituminous coal annually. Some is used domestically, while the rest is shipped to Japan and Korea.

Dodds Coal Mine

Location: Ryley, Alberta

Owner: Dodds Coal Mining Company Ltd.

Annual production: N/A

Dodds Coal Mine produces heating coal for residential, commercial and agricultural applications throughout western Canada.

Genesee Mine 

Location: Warburg, Alberta

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC

Annual production: 5 million tonnes

The Genesee Mine operates two active pits, providing sub-bituminous coal to three units at the Genesee Generating Station.

Highvale Mine

Location: South of Lake Wabamun, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Edmonton, Alberta

Owner: SunHills Mining LP (a wholly owned subsidiary of TransAlta)

Annual production: 8 million tonnes

Highvale Mine has five pits licensed, delivering low-sulphur coal to TransAlta’s Sundance, Keephills and Keephills 3 thermal generating plants. It is Canada’s largest surface-strip coal mine.

Paintearth Mine

Location: Forestburg, Alberta

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC

Annual production: 2.7 million tonnes

This mine operates two active pits, supplying sub-bituminous coal to three generating units at the Battle River Generating Station. 

Sheerness Mine 

Location: Hanna, Alberta

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC

Annual production: 3.3 million tonnes

Sheerness Mine is a 7,000-hectare surface strip mine located just south of Hanna, Alberta. It consists of two active pits and supplies sub-bituminous coal to the Sheerness Generating Station. 

Brule Mine 

Location: Between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, British Columbia

Owner: Conuma Coal Resources Ltd.

Annual production: 2.5 million tonnes 

This metallurgical coal surface mine became Conuma Coal's first operational mine in 2016. The open-pit project supplies some of the best low volatile Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) coal in the world, providing a coveted resource for steelmakers.

Coal Mountain Operations

Location: Sparwood, British Columbia

Owner: Teck

Annual production: 2.7 million tonnes

Coal Mountain produces metallurgical coal for steelmaking. The coal is transported by rail from the mine site to bulk port terminals in Vancouver, then transferred to seagoing vessels for export.

Elkview Operations

Location: Sparwood, British Columbia

Owner: Teck (95%), Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (2.5%) and POSCO (2.5%)

Annual production: 7 million tonnes

Elkview is one of five steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley, with Teck holding 95% ownership and the remaining 5% being owned by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation in Japan and POSCO in Korea.

Fording River Operations

Location: 29 kilometres northeast of Elkford, British Columbia

Owner: Teck  

Annual production: 8.5 million tonnes

Teck's Fording River Operations produces metallurgical coal, and is projected to operate for another 45 years.

Greenhills Operations 

Location: Eight kilometres northeast of Elkford, British Columbia

Owner: Teck (80%), POSCAN and its parent company, POSCO (20%)

Annual production: 5 million tonnes

Greenhills Operations is expected to remain active for at least another 31 years. Teck owns the majority of the shares, with 20% ownership being held by POSCO Canada Limited (POSCAN) and POSCAN’s parent, POSCO, a Korean steel producer.

Line Creek Operations

Location: 25 kilometres north of Sparwood, British Collumbia

Owner: Teck

Annual production: 3.5 million tonnes

This mine is another source of B.C. steelmaking coal, and is expected to provide resources for another 18 years. 

Wolverine Mine 

Location: Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia

Owner: Conuma Coal Resources LP.

Annual production: 1.5 million tonnes

Taking its name from the nearby river, the Wolverine Mine has an open pit sector where metallurgical coal is found, and a surface mine that produces mid-volatile quality hard coking coal (HCC).

Willow Creek Mine 

Location: 35 minutes southwest of Chetwynd, British Columbia 

Owner: Conuma Coal Resources LP

Annual production: 1.2 million tonnes

WIllow Creek Mine, located near Pine Pass, became Conuma's third operational surface mine last year.

Estevan Mine

Location: Between Estevan and Bienfait, Saskatchewan

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC 

Annual production: 6 million tonnes

The Estevan Mine covers 20,331 hectares and operates four active pits, supplying lignite coal to generating stations, plants and domestic clients.

Poplar River Mine

Location: Coronach, Saskatchewan

Owner: Westmoreland Mining LLC

Annual production: 3.3 million tonnes

This surface strip mine near the town of Coronach operates two active pits, providing lignite coal to the two generating units at the Poplar River Generating Station (owned and operated by Saskatchewan Power Corporation).  

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