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File Created: 04-Jan-2013 by Janet M. Riddell (JMR)
Last Edit:  24-Jan-2018 by George Owsiacki (GO)

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NMI
Name MURRAY RIVER, DUPONT WOLVERINE Mining Division Liard
BCGS Map 093P005
Status Developed Prospect NTS Map 093I14E, 093I15W, 093P02W, 093P03E
Latitude 055º 00' 54'' UTM 10 (NAD 83)
Longitude 121º 02' 38'' Northing 6098210
Easting 625075
Commodities Coal Deposit Types A04 : Bituminous coal
Tectonic Belt Foreland Terrane Ancestral North America
Capsule Geology

The Murray River property is located about 13 kilometres south and west of Tumbler Ridge in northeastern British Columbia. Two major water courses, namely the Murray River in the south and east, and Wolverine River in the north, flow through the project area. The license area is located within the Peace River Coalfield in an area well known for producing metallurgical grade (hard coking) coal from predominantly surface mining operations.

The Murray River project of HD Mining International Ltd. (co-owned by Huiyong Holdings (BC) Ltd. and Canadian Dehua Lvliang Limited) is a 35 kilometre-long, 160 square kilometre northwest-trending licensed area.

The area is underlain by Lower to Upper Cretaceous successions above the Gates Formation (Fort St. John Group). The main geologic structure is modelled as an open asymmetric syncline, with reverse faults bringing coal beds in the middle part of the Gates Formation to shallower depths. The project description (Rescan Environmental Services Ltd., 2012) identifies 5 to 6 underground workable Gates Formation seams about 2 to 5 metres thick.

The region hosting the Peace River Coalfield is underlain by an assemblage of sedimentary rocks consisting mainly of continental margin and shelf facies rocks deposited on and to the west of the ancestral North American craton from Hadrynian to Late Cretaceous time. Structurally these rocks are part of the Foreland Thrust and Fold Belt of the North American Cordillera. The coal in the region occurs mainly in Lower Cretaceous sedimentary rocks and was deposited in deltaic and shallow marine settings. These rocks were buried by younger sediments, and subsequently subjected to folding and thrusting during the Laramide deformation from 70 to 40 million years ago.

The Gates Formation is the major coal-bearing unit of the area and consists of siltstone, shale, sandstone, conglomerate and several cycles of coal deposition. It is generally subdivided into four sub-units, termed the Upper Gates member, the Babcock member, the Middle Gates member and the Quintette member. The Quintette member, approximately 80 to 90 metres thick, consists primarily of massive, fine grained siltstones and sandstones. The Middle Gates, approximately 90 to 100 metres thick, consists of a series of fining-upward sequences that culminate in coal development, and hosts all of the economic coal seams of the Gates Formation. The Babcock member is a channel deposit sequence of massive sandstones, conglomeratic sandstones and chert pebble/granule conglomerates, averaging 20 to 30 metres thick. The Upper Gates member is a 30 to 40 metres series of shales and sandy shales with several thin, discontinuous coal seams. A very thin bed of ferruginous chert pebbles marks the top of the unit. Overall thickness of the Gates Formation is 270 to 300 metres.

The Lower Cretaceous Gething Formation (Bullhead Group) consists of alternating units of fine to coarse-grained sandstone, carbonaceous shale, coal, siltstone and conglomerate. Three to four significant coal seams occur in the upper part of this formation. The upper contact is a thin bed of pebble conglomerate overlain by distinctive glauconitic, marine sandstones that form the base of the overlying Moosebar Formation (Fort St. John Group). Its thickness ranges from 120 to 200 metres.

The Murray River project area occupies a small area within a large block of coal tenure that was obtained by Canadian Dehua International Mines Group in 2009 from Kennecott Canada. This large block consists of 57 coal licenses covering 16,024 hectares in a northwest-trending group, extending from east of the active Walter Energy's Wolverine mine (093P 025) in the north, to the north side of Teck Coal's Mount Babcock project (093I 011) in the south. The greater claim area includes the past-producing Shikano pit (093I 010). The current project is concentrated in a much smaller area on the west side of the Murray River between Twenty Creek and M20 Creek, adjacent to the old Mesa Pit access road (Mast Creek road) and the recently dismantled conveyor from the Mesa Pit to the rail load-out.

Canadian Kailuan Dehua Mines in a joint venture with HD Mining International Group have proposed a 100,000 tonne bulk sample to assess coal quality while simultaneously building the mine decline from the portal to the shaft. The mine will target the A through K seams of the Middle Gates Formation, based on drilling programs conducted in 2009 through 2011 (Coal Assessment Report 910), and the proven mineability and coking quality of those seams at the nearby old Quintette operations at the Mesa pit and Mount Babcock. The D and E, F, G and J seams have been identified as the major seams. The F2 and K seams are minor seams that contribute to the coal resource (Coal Assessment Report 910).

Coal, and oil and gas exploration in the Murray River project area began in the 1970s. Denison Mines began exploring the area during the initiation of the Quintette project in 1971 (Coal Assessment Report 597) and continued exploration during the mining at Quintette through the 1980s and 1990s on the adjacent Mesa (093P 019), Shikano (093I 010), Babcock (093I 011), Grizzly and Transfer areas (Coal Assessment Reports 500, 599 through 619, 724,739, 753, 818, 843, 880). Du Pont examined the coal of the Gates Formation in the area in 1978-79 on their "Dupont Wolverine" property (093P 018) with a small mapping and drilling program (Coal Assessment Reports 514 and 515). Kennecott Canada successfully drilled one of three planned holes on the property in 2006 (Coal Assessment Report 897). In 2009 to 2010, Dehua completed their Phase 1 drilling program of 12 holes (Coal Assessment Report 910). Their Phase 2 drilling program was completed in 2011, consisting of 20 core holes (17,850 metres), in addition to 12 holes (485 metres) for geotechnical purposes (Coal Assessment Report 939).

In 2014, an underground bulk coal sample project continued with driving of a decline starting in January. The decline is planned to be 1500 metres long and extend to a depth of 400 metres. Contingent on coal quality results of the bulk sample, the proposed mine would have a production rate of 4.8 million tonnes per year of saleable coal over a 25 year mine life at an estimated capital cost of $668 million. Commissioning and first production is anticipated before 2018, subject to permitting approval. The company’s Environmental Assessment certificate application was accepted in mid-September, and the project is under review.

In 2014, reserves (proven mineable) are 261.6 million tonnes. Resource (Measured and Indicated) are 314.2 million tonnes (in Plot-1 area) (Exploration and Mining in British Columbia 2014, page 12).

In 2014, work by HD Mining International Ltd. included driving a decline beyond 742 metres proceeding toward the length for collecting a bulk sample, drilling (330 metres), engineering and environmental studies.

Murray River is a proposed underground mine that would extract coal from the Gates Formation by longwall methods, producing 4.8 million tonnes of saleable coal annually during a 25-year mine life. Proven mineable reserves are 261.6 million tonnes, and Measured plus Indicated resources are 314.2 million tonnes. In 2015, HD Mining International Ltd. completed bulk sampling for testing coal quality, processing, and marketability and in December 2017, the Government of Canada issued an Environmental Assessment Decision Statement that approved the project subject to legally binding conditions. These included: consultation with First Nations on implementing the conditions; avoiding, mitigating or offsetting impacts on caribou habitat; and limiting methane emissions to not more than 500,000 tonnes of equivalent CO2 annually. The provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate had been issued in October 2015 (Information Circular 2018-2).

Bibliography
EMPR COAL ASS RPT 500, *514, *515, 597, 599-619, 681, 724, 739, 746, 753, 818, 843, 880, *897, *910, 939, 991, 992, 1006, 1020
EMPR EXPL 2006-47,52,53; 2007-31,32,35,36; 2010-56; 2011-42,43; *2012-53,59-62; *2013-69,72,77,80,81,90; *2014-1,2,12,14,15,25; *2017-2,12,16,36,42-44,54
EMPR OF 1987-6; 1988-22
EMPR INF CIRC 2011-1, p.25; 2011-4; 2012-1, pp. 18,20; 2012-2, pp. 5,8; 2013-1, p.11; 2013-2, pp. 7,8; 2014-1, pp. 8,21; 2014-5, pp. 5,9,11; 2015-1, pp. 11,15,16; 2015-3, pp. 7,10; 2016-1, pp. 11,12,27,39-41,53-55; 2016-2, pp. 7,11; 2017-1, pp. 2,11,14,32,35,46-48,66,68,69,71; 2017-2, pp. 7,10; *2018-1, pp. 2,12,16,36,42-44,54; *2018-2, pp. 1,8,9
GSC BULL 328
GSC OF 630
Globe and Mail Mar.14, 2016
Rescan Environmental Services Ltd., 2012. Murray River Coal Project - Project Description: prepared for HD Mining International Ltd., Submitted to BC Environmental Assessment Office, 50 p.

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