Coal Mountain operations is located 30 kilometres southeast of Sparwood. At the Byron Creek operations (now called Coal Mountain), the Jurassic-Cretaceous Mist Mountain Formation (Kootenay Group) contains a number of coal seams of which the Balmer seam is stratigraphically lowest and most important. The other seams occur towards the top of the formation. The coal is medium volatile bituminous in rank and sulphur content ranges from 0.2 to 0.5 per cent. The coal when cleaned to 16 per cent ash, will have between 24 and 26 per cent volatile matter and a fuel value of 12,000 BTU's per pound. Two pits have been designated, No. 3 pit and North Ridge pit, and these contain 12,536,122 tonnes of clean coal while the remaining reserves consist of approximately 22,677,500 tonnes of which much will be mined by underground methods (1973). The Mist Mountain Formation occurs in a north trending synclinorium running the length of Coal Mountain. The formation is thickest and increasingly abundantly preserved towards the north (example in Lots 6999 and 6997).
The structure consists of a north trending, north plunging synclinorium which is cut in places by north trending, west dipping thrust faults. The coal-bearing synclinorium is exposed in Coal Mountain. To the west are strata of the Jurassic Fernie Group, in Lots 6998, 6996 and 6994, which are also cut by a roughly north trending thrust fault.
The No. 3 pit extends from approximately 12,250 north to approximately 15,350 north (Mine Grid). The Balmer seam reserves are present within the north plunging double syncline, outcropping at the southern end and on the western limb.
The North Ridge pit, extending from 15,350 north to 18,600 north (Mine Grid), is separated from the No. 3 Pit by three transverse faults. In the south it consists predominantly of a double synclinal structure (north plunging) which is cut by several thrust faults farther north, giving rise to a complex multiple synclinal exposure of the coal-bearing strata.
To the east of both the above pits, is the No. 6 syncline, from which approximately 22 million tonnes of clean coal could be recovered, mostly by underground mining.
The southwest shoulder reserve is a southerly extension of the eastern limb of No. 3 pit seam, and is thought to contain 2 to 6 million tonnes of in place coal reserve.
Previous mining activity in the area was carried out by the Corbin Coal and Coke Company between 1908 and 1934. Mine No.'s 1, 2, 4 and 5 were four adits in the north end of the mountain which extracted coal from nearly vertical, north striking seams. The No. 4 mine was the major producer; 958,000 tonnes coal was mined between 1913 and 1930, while approximately 370,000 tonnes were mined from the other three mines. The No. 3 mine extracted approximately 450,000 tonnes from the west side of the mountain by open pit and underground methods. The No. 6 mine produced 598,000 tonnes from both limbs of a long narrow syncline which is less complicated than many of the other structures on Coal Mountain.
Byron Creek Collieries Limited operated on Coal Mountain from 1974 to 1990; Corbin Coal from 1991 to 1993 and Fording Coal Ltd. from 1993.
Indicated reserves at the Byron Creek operations are 31,942,276 tonnes of coal at 1.35 per cent (grade based on reflectivity and average volatile matter content, Coal Assessment Report 260).
Exploration in 1995 by Fording Coal Ltd., consisting of 80 drillholes totalling approximately 13,000 metres, has resulted in the definition of a reserve base of 40 million tonnes of clean coal. Production in 1995 reached 1.1 million tonnes and increased to 1.8 and 2.1 million tonnes in 1996 and 1997, respectively. In 1998, Fording sold about 1.8 million tonnes of coal, about 60 per cent of which was coking coal and the balance thermal and pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal (Exploration and Mining in BC 1998). Reserves as at January 1, 2000 are 45 million tonnes (Information Circular 2001-1, page 6).
As of December 31, 2010 combined proven and probable reserves were 19.5 million tonnes (Teck Resources Annual Information Form 2010 www.sedar.com).
In 2013, 18 rotary holes were drilled (3754 metres) at the 6-Pit South, to increase drill hole density to upgrade the resource classification, verify historic drilling, and to confirm the main coal seam interpretation (Coal Assessment Report 977).
As of 2015, Teck Coal Ltd. produces mainly pulverized coal injection from 37-Pit and 6-Pit at the Coal Mountain Operations. Reserves include 1.6 million tonnes (Proven) and 5.6 million tonnes (Probable). Resources include 57.7 million tonnes (Measured), 82.9 million tonnes (Indicated), and 9.6 million tonnes (Inferred). Production in 2015 was forecast at 2.3 million tonnes (Information Circular 2016-1). As of December 2016, Reserves (Proven) are at 2.7 million tonnes, Resources are at 56.1 million tonnes (Measured), 23.1 million tonnes (Indicated), and 4.9 million tonnes (Inferred)(2016 Teck Annual Information Form, www.teck.com).
The Coal Mountain Phase II project (Marten-Wheeler; MINFILE 082GNE006) was designed to replace production after the depletion of the resource at Coal Mountain. Coal Mountain Phase II entered the pre-application stage of Environmental Assessment in 2014, however in late 2015, Teck Coal Ltd removed the proposal from the pre-application process as a result of lower commodity pricing (Information Circular 2016-1).
The Coal Mountain mine ceased production in 2018 as reserves were depleted. The wash plant and load-out facilities continue to be used to process coal from other Teck coal mines in the Elk River valley.