The Peace River Canyon coal occurrences are located just west of Moosecall Lake about 12 kilometres southwest of Hudson's Hope.
In the Peace River Canyon occurrence area, approximately eleven coal seams and zones occur in the Lower Cretaceous Gething Formation (mostly within the middle Gething, Bullhead Group) which consists of interbedded sandstone, siltstone, claystone and coal. Average seam thicknesses in area A are as follows: Trojan, 2.4 metres; Titan, 1.7 metres; Falls, 2.1 metres; Gething, 0.6 metre; Little Mogul, 0.7 metre; Mogul; 1.8 metres; Castle Point, 0.9 metre; and Milligan, 0.8 metre. Thinner seams are present between some of the above. Ash content varies from 2.14 to 7.58 per cent and sulphur from 0.60 to 1.23 per cent.
The structure consists of a northwest-trending anticline cut by several northwest trending, southwest dipping thrust faults.
In 1972, Cinnabar Peak Mines Ltd. held 37 coal licenses and options on five leases comprising of both sides of the Peace River Canyon, a few kilometres downstream from the Bennett Dam. During this time, the Gates Formation was examined but failed to reveal any major coal occurrences. A hammer seismic survey was also conducted over a limited area of thick overburden. Twenty coal seams with an average thickness ranging from 0.55 to 3.24 metres have been correlated on the property for as much as 17.6 kilometres along their strike. Estimated depths to the Trojan seam range from 75 to 495 metres. Preliminary estimates of potential coking coal reserves in the Trojan and Superior seams were 226,750,000 tonnes (Property File - Cyprus Anvil - Ridell, K.P., 1972).
In 1973, fieldwork included the drilling of three drillholes totalling 342 metres. Most of the coals found on the property are medium volatile bituminous, and some have F.S.I., values characteristic of coking coal.
Composite Sample No. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ash 5.87 5.11 7.78 3.39 3.15 9.82
Volatile Matter 33.89 26.18 26.78 22.86 22.40 25.56
Residual Moisture 0.59 0.84 0.44 0.45 0.63 0.54
Fixed Carbon 59.65 67.87 65.00 73.30 73.82 64.07
F.S.I. 9 5 1/2 6 1 1/2 1 1/2 7
Sulfur 0.60 0.49 0.67 0.76 0.64 1.16
(Property File - Cyprus Anvil - Halferdahl, L.B., 1974)
Reserves in the Trojan seam, based on an average thickness of 2.4 metres, were estimated at 40.0 million tonnes. At that time, an estimated 60 per cent extraction rate was assumed, leaving 24.0 million tonnes of mineable reserves in the Trojan seam (Property File - Cyprus Anvil - Halferdahl, L.B., 1974).
Combined (measured and indicated) reserves suitable for surface mining are 19,783,851 tonnes; measured reserves suitable for underground mining are 37,735,360 tonnes (Coal Assessment Report 576, page 25).
The coal along the Peace River is believed to be the first coal discovered in Western Canada. In 1793, Sir Alexander MacKenzie noted the presence of exposed coal seams in the Peace River Canyon. Among those most persistent in their efforts to mine coal from this region was the Gething family of Fraser Lake and Hudson’s Hope and their name has been given to this extensive coal formation. Coal mining in the canyon dates from 1923. At one time or another, production came from five mines located on or adjacent to the property held by Cinnabar Peak Mines Ltd. Although this initial mining phase lasted more than 40 years, production was carried out on a small scale. Throughout the entire period, less than 55,000 tonnes of coal was produced and half of this production came from the Gething No. 3 mine (093O 030). The Gething family mined coal from the property until 1947 but with railways converting to diesel fuel from coal there was no longer a ready market and the mine was closed.
In 1969, Cinnabar Peak Mines Ltd. began a coal land acquisition program with an option to purchase Crown-granted lands owned by the Gething-Green estate. In 1972, four test holes were drilled on the Peace River Canyon coal properties of Cinnabar Peak Mines Ltd. Four holes totalling 322.7 metres were drilled to obtain stratigraphic and structural information, and samples from coal seams in the upper part of the Gething Formation. In 1979, an option was exercised with the coal rights of the Crown-granted lands now wholly owned by Cinnabar. In addition to these lands, Cinnabar obtained coal licenses surrounding the Crown-granted lands. Fieldwork in 1979 consisted of an extensive reflection and refraction seismic survey designed to evaluate the Gething Formation on Portage and Johnson mountains and to provide additional structural information on the properties. Some geological field examinations were made in conjunction. In the summer of 1980, Cinnabar Peak Mines Ltd. continued a more detailed investigation consisting of diamond drilling, sampling, geological and geophysical work. Together with the results from previous drilling programs and surface geophysical work, this program has been used to evaluate specific areas of the property, with the objective of determining their suitability for mining. A 1983 program comprised reserves drilling and plant site investigation. Total coal reserves drilling amounted to 349 metres in three rotary holes; a total of 70.7 metres in eight holes of rotary and auger drilling was conducted for the purpose of foundation, plant and dump site investigations.