A recent edition of Interior News included an article on the Arctos Anthracite Project. The project is an international collaboration between Fortune Minerals Limited (80%) and POSCO Canada Ltd. (20%), the Canadian subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO, one of the world’s largest steel producers.
Local Community to Benefit From Worldwide Anthracite Demand
For decades, China was to anthracite what Saudi Arabia is to oil. The country was sitting on huge reserves of the highest quality coal and exported it around the world for a multitude of uses including the production of steel and metal processing. But a decade ago, that all changed. By 2004, the Chinese were using more anthracite than the country was producing, in part because of an increase in domestic steel production, fuelled by the country’s enormous construction boom. Since only 1 per cent of the world’s coal reserves are anthracite, there weren’t a lot of alternatives to buying from China. Add to that increasing demand for metallurgical coal in India, Brazil and other growing economies, and it is clear anthracite will be a valuable commodity worldwide for decades to come.
That reality is good news for the B.C. economy. There are enormous resources of anthracite in the northwestern portion of the province, a two-hour drive north of Hazelton, about 330 kilometres from the port of Prince Rupert. Canada’s first anthracite mine is being developed by the Arctos Anthracite Joint Venture (AAJV), a partnership between Fortune Minerals Limited, a Canadian company based in London, Ont., and its joint venture partner, POSCO Canada Limited, a subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO, one of the world’s largest steel producers. As a 20 per cent partner, POSCO has committed to pay an estimated $158-million in development and capital costs. Thus far, $100-million has been invested in the project. Plans are to begin operations in 2016. That translates into jobs and revenue for the area. When up and running, the project will create more than 500 highpaying jobs and another 1,000-plus jobs in supporting businesses and services. Revenue of more than $10-billion will generate at least $900-million in federal and provincial taxes.
None of that would matter if Fortune and its partners did not believe they could extract the anthracite with minimal environmental impact – or if the partnership were not committed to working with aboriginal groups and community stakeholders to ensure concerns are addressed and the prosperity is shared. Last year Fortune joined the Progressive Aboriginals Relations (PAR) program, operated by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. The company was excited to join at the committed level and validate its effort to build positive aboriginal relationships. At the company’s other project, NICO in the Northwest Territories, three quarters of the workers at the camp since 2007 have been First Nations from the North. Fortune has asked its suppliers to enroll in the PAR program to ensure its entire supply chain is committed to working with and supporting aboriginal entrepreneurs and businesses. The AAJV is also committed to protecting the environment. The proposed mine footprint is less than 800 hectares, within a development area of about 4,000 hectares, and the site can be accessed using the existing rail and road bed. Water quality in nearby Didene Creek will be protected. Because of a natural waterfall barrier, the creek is not fish bearing. No part of the mine will affect the Skeena River; only the railway passes through the valley. Neither the mine nor the railway impacts the Nass River or its watershed.
The project’s coal wash plant will recycle 95 per cent of the water it uses, and Arctos will create no tailings and no tailings pond. The mine is being designed from the start to optimize closure condition. The global market for anthracite is strong and growing. B.C. is in a unique position to profit from that demand. The Arctos project will create hundreds of high-paying, long-term jobs, building multigenerational wealth through its contribution to the local economy– all while protecting the environment and working with aboriginals and others living in the area to make the project a model of cooperation and environmental sustainability
By Chris Clark
Smithers Interior News