This community information site has been established to provide timely and relevant information following a breach of a containment pond at the Obed Mountain Mine.
On April 28, 2014, Westmoreland Coal Company (“Westmoreland”) and Sherritt International Corporation (“Sherritt”) concluded a sale transaction that had been planned since early 2013.
Westmoreland has acquired Sherritt’s coal assets, including Coal Valley Resources Inc. (“CVRI”), which owns and operates Obed Mountain Mine (“Obed”). CVRI, under Westmoreland, will continue to own and operate Obed.
CVRI is currently working with expert consultants carrying out monitoring and remediation activities for the Obed release. While no longer the owner and operator of CVRI and Obed, Sherritt retains the ultimate responsibility for all commitments and obligations resulting from the release at Obed, including monitoring and remediation activities and addressing Aboriginal and community concerns, and is working closely with CVRI and Westmoreland on these issues.
All future updates will be issued by CVRI.
Operations at the Obed Mountain Mine were staged-down in November 2012 in response to low coal prices. There are currently no plans to resume active mining and processing operations.
Since November 2012, Obed has been undergoing reclamation to restore previously mined areas to permanent vegetation, lake development and forest . Reclamation is an ongoing process that all mines, including active sites, undertake as a normal and progressive component of their operations. As of December 31, 2013, approximately 644 hectares, or 34% of the total mine area, had been reclaimed and converted to permanent vegetation, lake development and forest.
- Sampling and monitoring activities will move towards long-term schedules for the winter season. Regular sampling and monitoring will continue until freeze up.
- Seed germination program and invasive weeds assessment is now complete for the 2014 season.
- A site tour was held on September 9th for the Alberta Energy Regulator, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Health, and the University of Alberta.
- A dam safety inspection was completed by the Alberta Energy Regulator on September 12th.
- Settling ponds around the site have been pumped down to prepare for annual maintenance work.
- Weekly and monthly status reports are being posted on the “Plans & Reports” page of the Obed website.
The third quarter report, data collection and sampling will be complete and posted to the website October 15th. This report will summarize technical details on a number of evaluation, management and remediation activities.
The Fish Sampling and Monitoring Plan is nearing completion. The Human Health Risk Assessment Plan is currently under development and slated for review in November.
- Remediation activity over the past period has focused on re-establishing affected portions of Apetowun Creek within five kilometres of the Main Pond. This was the area of greatest disturbance and the creek channel was heavily damaged. The following activities were undertaken:
- Sediment left behind by the release was recovered.
- Bank re-establishment and recontouring was completed.
- Downed timber that was previously moved was strategically replaced to provide ground cover.
- Contouring and riprapping was completed on a culvert area.
- Assessments were completed with wildlife and aquatic habitat specialists to remediate any impacted habitat areas.
- Further assessments for the remainder of Apetowun Creek will be ongoing in May and June.
- Completed the construction of four sediment traps in Apetowun Creek. These are structural features in the creek that are in place to collect potential sediment left behind from the release.
- A number of erosion control materials have been installed along the creeks to help decrease the potential for erosion in disturbed areas.
- Data sondes were installed in Apetowun Creek to monitor the level of suspended solids. Periodic flow measurements are also being taken. These tests are in addition to the continuing water monitoring program in and around the creeks and Athabasca River.
- A regional soil sampling program has been initiated around the mine site.
- Wildlife cameras continue to be maintained and track counts were completed.
- Testing programs on the soil, sediment, deposited solids and water will continue for the foreseeable future.
- A Final Impact Assessment Report was submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator in May 2014, in keeping with the requirements of the November 19, 2013, Environmental Protection Order.