Highvale coal mine
The Highvale coal mine is located south of Lake Wabamun, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada and has been in operation since 1970. The Highvale mine is one of three TransAlta-owned surface coal mines. It is also Canada’s largest surface strip coal mine, covering a total of 12,140 hectares.
Currently, there are a total of five pits that are being actively mined (pits 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07). These surface coal mining operations involve removing rock layers to expose and extract coal reserves. As of May 2010 Highvale operated four draglines for this purpose.
The company reports that a total of 13 million tonnes of low-sulphur-content thermal-grade coal are mined at Highvale annually and delivered to TransAlta’s Sundance and Keephills thermal generating plants. When the Keephills 3 thermal plant is completed, it will require an additional 1.8 millions tonnes each year to be mined at the site.
Since the mine's opening in 1970, TransAlta has reclaimed 1,310 hectares of the 4,362 hectares of land that have been mined at Highvale. The company states that "We reclaim land to a state that is equivalent to or better than it was before our mining activities, or restore it for other uses. When complete, the reclaimed land supports a variety of land uses such as agriculture, woodlands, wildlife habitat, recreation and wetlands."
As of May 2010 the company reports that they have applied to the Alberta Utilities Commission as well as Alberta Environment for approval to begin surface mining operations in Pit 08 at Highvale Mine. Transalta states that development of Pit 08 is essential to ensure a continuous supply of coal for the Keephills generating plant until 2020.
- "Highvale" TransAlta Mine Page, accessed May 5, 2010.