British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Remote-sensing-based assessment of reclamation at Teck Coal's Elk Valley operations Straker, Justin; O'Brien, Billie; Fuller, Bob; Fraser, Carla; Freilinger, Stefanie; Gallagher, Laurie; Pumphrey, John F.


Teck Coal operates five metallurgical coal mines in the Elk Valley of southeast B.C.: Fording River, Greenhills, Line Creek, Elkview, and Coal Mountain Operations. Along with their sister mine in Alberta, Cardinal River, these mines make Teck the second-largest exporter of coking coal in the world. Reclamation and reclamation research has been conducted on some of these sites since the beginning of mine development in the late 1960s. Together, these mines have reclaimed over 2700 hectares of land. In 2008, site-wide assessments of reclamation success were conducted on all five Elk Valley mines. The desire to provide reclamation information on all reclaimed areas at the Elk Valley mines, and the overall aggregate size of these areas, required the development of innovative assessment methods. Projects that assess reclamation success tend to use ground-based monitoring methods that involve frequent site visits and assess on a site-by-site basis. As the number of reclaimed sites increase, the area that needs to be monitored continues to grow, along with corresponding costs. By using a combination of computer-aided (supervised) classification of remote-sensing satellite imagery supported by a reduced (targeted) ground- based sampling program, reclamation assessment information can be provided on a site-wide basis at reduced cost. These methods are particularly effective for assessment of large sites and/or sites with long operating horizons, due to large current or future areas requiring assessment (and to continuing improvement of remote-sensing technology). Following this model, the reclamation monitoring program conducted in 2008 for Teck’s Elk Valley operations employed high-resolution multi-spectral imagery from the Quickbird satellite platform to produce a spectra-based classification of reclaimed areas, ground-truthed through a field sampling campaign. This paper will present methods and results of this assessment, and discuss planned future use of these reclamation assessment tools at Teck’s Elk Valley operations.

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