The Telkwa coalfield in northwest B.C. extends for approximately 50 kilometres along the Bulkley River, from north of the Town of Smithers to south of the Village of Telkwa. Historically, thermal coal was mined from the coalfield in the early part of the century. At that time, thermal coal was used primarily for its heating value. Today, most thermal coal is used to produce electricity. The Telkwa Coalfield produced approximately 433,000 tons of thermal coal in the period 1918 to 1970.
Coal is contained in the Early Cretaceous Skeena Group, which is divided into four units. The lowest (unit 1) contains a single coal zone and unit 3, which averages 90 metres in thickness, contains over 10 seams of mineable thickness. The seams are folded into open folds and broken by thrusts and normal faults. The coal is generally high-volatile A bituminous but in a few locations rank increases to anthracite.
Since 1978 there has been intensive exploration in the area culminating in plans to develop a 1 to 1.5 million tonnes per year open pit thermal coal mine. In 1999 Luscar Ltd, the present owners of the property, shelved plans to develop the property pending improvements in world thermal coal prices and at the time of writing May 2002 plans have not changed.
The Telkwa coalfield is estimated to contain approximately 0.13 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A major natural gas pipeline passes through the coalfield, providing access to local or continental natural gas markets.
BC Geological Survey
British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines
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