Cardinal River operations : Cheviot haul road construction, reclamation and operation Symbaluk, Marc Daniel
The Cheviot Coal Mine Project, operated by Elk Valley Coal Corporation’s Cardinal River Operations (CRO), is located approximately 250 km west of Edmonton, Alberta. It is in the Subalpine Natural Subregion of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 1650 to 1900 m. At its closest point, the mineral surface lease boundary lies 3 km east of the Jasper National Park border. Following nearly 10 years of environmental assessments and extensive regulatory processes, approvals were issued to begin development of the Cheviot Mining area in late 2003. This new metallurgical coal mine is located approximately 20 km south of the existing CRO processing plant. A key aspect of the mine development, and source of opposition for environmental activist groups, was the need for construction of approximately 13 km of new haul road to access the Cheviot development. Initiated in early 2004 and largely completed in 2005, this new haul road is located in the McLeod River valley. To address environmental conditions, this development implemented several mitigation programs and strategies, including extensive efforts to avoid in-stream disturbance and water quality impacts. A water management program was initiated to ensure containment and controls for all drainage wastewater. Mitigative measures were employed to reduce both ecological and species specific impacts. Concurrently, traffic/wildlife mitigation programs were developed and implemented to mitigate risk for incidents along the operating haul road. The construction of the haul road within the river valley required the temporary closure and relocation of an adjacent seasonal public road. Interim measures were required to ensure that stakeholders were permitted periodic passage through the active construction area until CRO could re-establish the public road. Construction occurred through a period of intense litigation and regulatory challenges by determined environmental groups and intense multi-stakeholder interest. Construction activities accomplished two milestones: allowing successful first coal delivery from the Cheviot Pit in October 2004, and successful re-opening of the public road by Victoria Day in May 2005. In 2005, reclamation activities were initiated. The haul road and county road in the McLeod River Valley, sharing a parallel alignment, have been both extensively and successfully utilized. This presentation will outline and discuss some of the project objectives, field challenges, and key stakeholder and environmental management issues that were encountered and addressed through CRO’s adaptive management process in the construction and reclamation of the Cheviot haul road.
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