Perry Creek Coal is located approximately 7.5 kilometres northwest of Tumbler Ridge and is accessed by driving 15 kilometres along the Wolverine Forest Service Road off Highway 29.
In the Perry Creek area, the main coal seams in descending order are the E2, E3, F, G and J seams with a cumulative average coal thickness of nearly 12.5 metres. The main seam of interest is the relatively thick, basal J Seam, which includes about seven metres of coal in three main plies, J1, J2 and J3. The remaining seams are generally from 1 to 2.5 metres in thickness. The surrounding rock types are sedimentary units of the Lower Cretaceous Gates Formation (Fort St. John Group) that are typically sandstone, siltstone and shale. In the Perry Creek area, conglomerate or conglomeratic beds also occur.
At Perry Creek, the geological structure of the open pit resource area is an open, asymmetrical syncline that lies between the Wolverine River and Perry Creek valleys. Fold plunge angles are generally gentle and range between 4 to 10 degrees to the northwest and southeast. The dip increases rapidly on the northeastern limb to approximately 25 to 30 degrees. Across most of the southwest limb, dips are generally less than 15 degrees but steeper dips are encountered westwards, reaching approximately 25 to 30 degrees towards the crest of the Perry Creek anticline. The southwest limb of this anticline is interpreted to attain a dip of up to 45 degrees and is beyond the Perry Creek resource limits.
The original coal licenses for the Perry Creek area were acquired by Denison Mines Ltd. (Denison) and assigned to Quintette Coal Ltd., a joint venture company between Denison and an international consortium of steel companies. Quintette referred to the Perry Creek area as a part of its Wolverine North exploration area and conducted exploration programs there during the 1980s. Quintette developed large open pit coal mines southeast of the Perry Creek area that operated from 1983 through 2000. During 1989 to 1990, Quintette’s ownership changed as part of a significant financial reorganization and subsequently Quintette allowed the coal licenses for the Perry Creek area to lapse. Western Canadian Coal Corp. acquired the Perry Creek licenses in 2000 and 2001.
Western Canadian Coal Corp. (WCCC) has conducted extensive exploration and development work in the Perry Creek area since the summer of 2000 and into 2005. This work has included reconnaissance mapping, delineation rotary and core drilling, bulk sampling using large diameter core holes, plus associated activities such as geophysical logging, coal analyses and washability testing, surveying and access trail construction and maintenance. As of December 29, 2005, WCC had drilled 50 holes with over 4550 metres of total drilling length. Each hole was completed using a rotary drilling rig with coring capability, and cores were recovered from designated coal seams in certain holes.
In 2004, Western Canadian Coal Corp. applied for an Environmental Assessment Certificate for the development of the Wolverine metallurgical coal mine. The proposed mine includes the Perry Creek and Mount Spieker or EB (093P 015) deposits.
For the Wolverine Project, the total estimated Proven and Probable reserves are 43.2 million tonnes. Perry Creek area reserves amount to 35.8 million tonnes of Proven coal with an estimated ash content of 30 per cent on an air-dried basis; EB area reserves equal an estimated 7.4 million tonnes of Probable reserves with an estimated ash content of 26 per cent on an air-dried basis (Technical Report on the Wolverine Project for Western Canadian Coal Corp., December 29, 2005, http://www.sedar.com/).
For the Wolverine Project, the total Proven and Probable saleable coal reserves are estimated to be 27.7 million tonnes including 256,000 tonnes of oxidized coal. For Perry Creek, the total clean coal reserves are estimated to be 22.8 million tonnes including about 197,000 tonnes of oxidized coal. For EB, estimated clean coal reserves amount to 4.9 million tonnes including 59,000 tonnes of oxidized coal (Technical Report on the Wolverine Project for Western Canadian Coal Corp., December 29, 2005, http://www.sedar.com/).
As of December 31, 2007, WCCC has drilled 160 holes with over 12,700 metres of total drilling length. Each hole was completed using a rotary drilling rig with coring capability, and cores were recovered from designated coal seams in certain holes. In Perry Creek, five coal seams were defined and are currently mined: E2, E3, F, G and J. The primary goal of the 2007 drilling program was to increase the certainty of the projected quality parameters of the coal (Technical Report on the Wolverine Project for Western Canadian Coal Corp., December 31, 2007, http://www.sedar.com/).
Updated reserves and resources reported in Western Coal Corp.'s Annual Report released in 2009 are as follows:
Reserves (tonnes) Resources (tonnes)
Proven Probable Measured Indicated
28,900,000 30,300,000 29,900,000 400,000
In 2014, reserves were 9.4 million tonnes saleable (proven). Resource is 28.0 million tonnes in situ, March 31, 2010 (Exploration and Mining in British Columbia 2014, page 9).
In mid-April 2014, Walter Energy Inc. (previously Western Coal Corp.) placed Perry Creek on care and maintenance due to low coal prices.
Walter Energy Inc.’s coal operations consist of three surface mines that produce hard coking and low-volatile pulverized coal injection (PCI) coals in northeast British Columbia (Perry Creek (Wolverine) mine, Brule mine (093P 007), and Willow Creek mine (093O 008)). The Wolverine mine is an open pit metallurgical coal mine with a coal processing plant and a rail load-out facility capable of handling 3.5 million metric tons per year. The mine produces premium hard coking coal. The Willow Creek mine produces metallurgical coal comprised of an estimated one-third hard coking coal and two-thirds low-volatile pulverized coal (PCI). Willow Creek mine is located about 37 kilometres west of Chetwynd. It is an open pit metallurgical coal mine with a coal processing plant and a rail load-out facility. The Brule mine is an open pit metallurgical coal mine and produces a premium low-volatile PCI product. It is located about 37 kilometres south of Chetwynd. Coal from Brule is transported by truck to the Willow Creek mine for processing and shipping. The Willow Creek mine includes a processing plant and a load-out facility. Walter Energy currently operates the Willow Creek mine with Brule as a combined “Brazion Group”.
Conuma Coal Resources Limited resumed production at the Brule and Perry Creek (Wolverine) mines late in 2016, and combined to produce 3.5 million tonnes in 2017. The restart process at Perry Creek began January 2017, with ramp-up completed June 2017. Forecast 2017 production at Perry Creek is 1.14 million tonnes; Proven reserves as of December 31, 2016 are 8.8 million tonnes (Coal Industry Overview 2017, page 8).
The product at Perry Creek is medium-volatile bituminous hard coking coal (HCC), which was trucked on Conuma`s haul road and, later in 2017, moved by rail, to its load-out facility at the Willow Creek mine. The approximate remaining mine life is three years, but activity in the area will be extended if Conuma elects to move its operation to the nearby EB deposit.