The Huguenot Coal property is part of the Peace River Coalfield and is located approximately 85 kilometres southeast of Tumbler Ridge and 10 kilometres west of the British Columbia-Alberta border.
The region is underlain by an assemblage of sedimentary rocks consisting mainly of continental margin and shelf facies rocks. This assemblage was deposited on, and to the west of, the ancestral North American craton. These sedimentary rocks, for the most part typical miogeoclinal facies, range in age from Hadrynian to Upper Cretaceous. Structurally these rocks are part of the Foreland Thrust and Fold Belt of the North American Cordillera.
The coal measures of the region occur mainly in Cretaceous sediments deposited unconformably on older miogeoclinal strata. These sediments were subjected to fold and thrust tectonics, which also affected the older rocks.
The Gates Formation (Fort St. John Group) 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 metre 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 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.
At the Huguenot project, the average cumulative thickness of Gates Formation coal seams in three separate blocks is 15 to 19 metres.
Originally, the Huguenot Coal property (previously known as Holtslander South) was part of the larger Belcourt Coal property (093I 014); it is now a standalone property owned by Colonial Coal International Corp.
The area was first explored in 1971 by Denison Mines Ltd., who conducted limited geological reconnaissance in the area to confirm the presence of coal seams within the Lower Cretaceous Gates and Gething formations. In 1975, Denison Mines Ltd. completed detailed geological mapping on the area. In 1976, Denison Mines Ltd. executed an exploration program of geological mapping and diamond drilling. In 1977, Denison Mines Ltd. completed geological mapping and hand trenching to determine coal seam thicknesses. From 1978 to 1979, Denison Mines Ltd. completed geological mapping, hand trenching and diamond drilling.
The property was dormant from 1980 to 2008. In 2008, Colonial Coal International Corp. completed 2045 metres of diamond drilling and 55 trenches on the Huguenot property. In 2011, Colonial Coal International Corp. completed 16 air rotary-drill holes, 13 diamond-drill holes and four large-diameter rotary-drill holes, for a total of 6871 metres drilled.
In 2012, Colonial Coal International Corp. released an National Instrument (NI) 43-101 compliant resource estimate of measured surface coal of 80,150,000 tonnes, indicated surface coal of 12,039,000 tonnes, inferred surface coal of 38,152,000 tonnes, measured underground coal of 36,750,000 tonnes, indicated underground coal of 60,420,000 tonnes and inferred underground coal of 156,490,000 tonnes (Press Release, Colonial Coal International Corp., September 4, 2012).
In 2013, Colonial Coal International Corp. released a revised NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate of measured surface coal of 96,200,000 tonnes, indicated surface coal of 35,750,000 tonnes, inferred surface coal of 530,000 tonnes, measured underground coal of 18,850,000 tonnes, indicated underground coal of 126,880,000 tonnes and inferred underground coal of 118,660,000 tonnes (Press Release, Colonial Coal International Corp., September 24, 2013). The economic assessment study (Evenson, 2013) described a combined surface and underground longwall mining operation that would produce between 1.4 and 5.9 million tonnes per year, averaging 3.0 million tonnes per year of clean coal over 31 years. Total clean coal production over the life of mine would be 89 million tonnes. Carbonization testing and coal washing optimization studies were undertaken in 2014, and environmental baseline studies continued.