Fording River operations is located 29 kilometres northeast of Elkford. At the Fording River operations, at least eighteen coal seams, of which around eight are generally greater than four metres thick, occur in the Jurassic-Cretaceous Mist Mountain Formation (Kootenay Group) interbedded with sandstone, siltstone and shale. The coal is medium volatile bituminous in rank. Ash, volatile matter, fixed carbon and sulphur vary from approximately 8.2 to 46.5 per cent, approximately 17.1 to 37.5 per cent, approximately 36.9 to 64.2 per cent and 0.34 to 1.22 per cent respectively (composite seam data for 1980).
Mining operations have produced more than 21 million tonnes of cleaned metallurgical coal primarily for export to Japan, between 1972 and 1980. Coal is taken from the Turnbull, Clode, Taylor and Blackwood pits, the Greenhills area (082JSE007 and 082JSE010) and the Eagle Mountain (082JSE009) and Seam 15 underground mine.
The general structure of the area consists of the north- northwest trending Alexander Creek syncline in the east with a subsidiary north-northwest trending syncline to the west. The folds are separated by a north-northwest trending normal fault and smaller scale normal faults are also present.
The Greenhills area occurs on the east limb of the subsidiary western syncline. Seven major seams, the B, D, E, F, G, H and I are present. B seam (10.4 to 1.5 metres) generally is present as one thick seam, however it thins in places and may be disrupted by faulting which is common in the east. Seam D, whose main bench varies from 6.4 to 11.5 metres, can have up to two lower benches usually less than 2 metres thick. Seam E occurs as a single seam 6.7 to 9.8 metres thick or as a composite three bench seam totalling 9.2 metres thick. Seam F varies from 5.2 to 6.8 metres in thickness. Several benches of the F seam occur above the main bench but are separated by considerable thicknesses of rock. Seam G consists of a lower (2.1 to 2.8 metres) and upper (1.5 to 1.8 metres) seam. Seam H (3.3 to 4 metres) has several lower splits, generally less than 1.5 metres. Seam I is least extensive in the Greenhills area and is about 3.4 metres thick. The strata generally dips west at angles between 0 and 15 degrees. Minor normal faults are common in the east and these may be associated with the more major Erickson normal fault.
Strata in the Blackwood pit dip 0 to 28 degrees northeast, striking north-northwest. Coal seams outcropping in the pit area include seams 11, 9, 7 and 5 in the northwest and north, and seam 4 (8.2 to 12.8 metres) in the south (seam 4 being the main target). Several thinner seams (1.3 to 3.8 metres) are present stratigraphically below seam 4, however they do not outcrop in the pit area. The Blackwood pit is the southernmost pit on the main Alexander Creek syncline.
The Turnbull pit is the northernmost pit on the Alexander Creek syncline. Beds generally strike north-northwest, dipping northeast 10 to 30 degrees. Seams 12, 11, 9, 7, 5 and 4 outcrop in the area, with seam R-4 (9.1 to 9.8 metres) being one of the main targets (Pit R-4). A major thrust fault, flat and gently west dipping, displaces seams 4 (2.1 to 10.2 metres), 5 (10.5 to 12.0 metres) and 7 (3.7 to 6.7 metres).
The Clode pit is located to the southeast of the Turnbull pit and contains normal seams 7, 5 and 4 in addition to repeated seams below a major flat thrust fault (horizontal displacement approximately 488 metres). Strata strikes north-northwest and dips towards the northeast. Seams 9 and 11 also outcrop in the area. Seam 4 thins downdip.
The Taylor pit (west face and northwest Eagle Mountain) contains seam 14 (split into 2 to 4 widely separated seams 0.5 to 3 metres thick), seam 13 (4.4 metres, often split seams), seam 12 (5.3 metres and thins to the east and north to 2.1 metres), seam 11 Upper (3.2 metres), seam 11 (4.7 metres, sometimes split), seam 9 (5.9 metres including Lower 9), seam 7 (6.2 metres), seam 5 (6.9 metres) and seam 4 (9.8 metres). Thrust faults present in the area may account for seam thinning and splitting. The Taylor pit contains strata dipping 20 to 21 degrees northeast on the west face and the strata flatten from 8 to 10 degrees northeast in the axial region of the Alexander Creek syncline.
The north and south face of Eagle Mountain lie predominantly on the east limb of the Alexander Creek syncline with strata striking north-northwest and dipping 20 to 30 degrees west-southwest. To the south the area contains the axial region and part of the west limb. Coal seams outcropping, from north to south, include seams 15, 13, 12, 11, 9 and 7. Seam 15 is the main target in the north while the stratigraphically lower seams are more important in the south.
Unclassified reserves at the Fording River operations are 225 million tonnes of coal (The Coal Association of Canada 1993 Directory, page 12).
Production by Fording Coal Limited at the Fording River mine was over 7 million tonnes in 1995 and 7.9 million tonnes in 1996. Over 120 holes totalling 16,000 metres were drilled in 1995 as part of an exploration program on Henretta and Turnbull ridges. Main drilling programs were completed at Castle Mountain (10 holes totalling 6000 metres) and Henretta Ridge (30 holes totalling 4580 metres) in 1996. Over 8 million tonnes was produced in 1997; drilling was done at Castle Mountain.
About 8 million tonnes was produced in 1998; drilling totalled about 15,000 metres in 32 rotary holes, mainly in the Turnbull Mountain and Castle Mountain areas. Two deep exploration holes were drilled north of the Greenhills pit.
Reserves at January 1, 2000 are 231 million tonnes (Information Circular 2001-1, page 6).
As of October 2008, Teck purchased the remaining assets of the Elk Valley Coal Partnership from Fording Canadian Coal Trust.
Reserves as of December 31, 2009 are 249.9 million tonnes combined proven and probable (Exploration and Mining in BC 2010 page 106).
In 2011, 12 exploration boreholes were drilled on the Swift property, along the western edge of the Fording River area where it borders the Greenhills Mine (Coal Assessment Report 911). In 2013, 5 reverse-circulation holes were drilled (2133 metres), and 5 large diameter reverse flood holes (from one drill pad) were drilled for bulk sampling of seams 070, 050, and 040 in the Swift area (Coal Assessment Report 927). The Swift expansion project received conditional environmental assessment approval in 2015. Swift is located along strike and directly north of the Greenhills Cougar North project (Information Circular 2016-1).
As of 2015, Fording River Operations produces hard coking coal and lesser thermal coal from the Eagle Mountain, Turnbull Mountain, and Henretta pits. At the current production rate of almost 8 million tonnes per year, Fording River has an estimated mine life of 73 years.
2015 Proven and Probable Reserves at Fording River include 620.4 million tonnes of hard coking coal and 4.5 million tonnes of thermal coal. Resources include 1,149 million tonnes (Measured and Indicated) of hard coking coal and 9 million tonnes (Measured and Indicated) of thermal coal.
2016 Proven and Probable Reserves at Fording River include 390.4 million tonnes of clean metallurgical coal. Resources include 1,432.5 million tonnes (Measured and Indicated) and 789 million tonnes (Inferred) of raw metallurgical coal (2016 Teck Annual Information Form, www.teck.com).