This week we're celebrating Mining Week here in BC so Teck, Todd's employer, had FREE bus tours of each of it's five mines in the Elk Valley this week. Fording River, the mine Todd works at, was being toured today. So we signed up about 2 weeks ago for the bus tour for Spencer and I.
We got on a Teck coach bus in Sparwood where we met one other bus carrying passengers from Fernie and another carrying people from Crowsnest Pass. The bus was full and off we drove to Elkford for a few more passengers and then up the mountain to the Fording River division... about 60 km for Sparwood.
This is what we saw at the front gates.... the coal processing plant....
This picture was taken from the main office area looking down to the bays where haul trucks are fixed. Todd spends a lot of his time off to the left (off the photo) in a smaller electrical shop area.
From the main office we could see the coal trucks unloading into the crusher plant (can't remember its official name). This is the view from above as we started our drive up the mountain.
As we drove up the mountain, every few minutes we'd see this view through the front window of the bus. The lanes up and down the mountain are huge! I think you could easily fit an 8 lane highway on them. This is because of the haul trucks and their mammoth size and lack of view.
We wound up the mountain slowly with our foreman accompaniment in front of the bus. We came to the top of the hill and came to a roadway that was rather "sludgy" to say the least. It looked smooth but really.... it was covered in about a foot of coal coloured "mud". The pot holes were easily disguised!!!!! The ride was SLOW... and bumpy!!
We were driven up to Eagle 6 area where we first saw Drill #3. It was perched on the edge of bench, getting ready to drill for a drop of explosives.
This is one of the huge Latourneau loaders. The foreman accompanying us asked the driver to pull up to the side of our coach bus. The loader bucket was HUGE! It probably could have picked up the bus it was SO large! Pictures just don't do these machines justice!!!
At Eagle 6, Shovel #6 was in full operation scooping up spoil and loading it into waste trucks (anything but coal) to have it trucked away.
It took them only 3 scoops of the shoovel to fill the haul trucks! When full the haul trucks are said to be over a million pounds!
To add a little bit of perspective to this photo, Todd comes up ALMOST to the middle of the tires on the haul trucks! YUP... they're freaking HUGE!
The "smaller" truck (above) to the left is clearing any debris from loading the haul trucks so the haul trucks don't run over it. Apparently it's not great for tires!!!
We sat at Eagle 6 for awhile and watched the haul trucks speed in and out; load and unload. The Latourneau loader even started to load haul trucks too from the smaller debris piles.
As we left Eagle 6, I took this shot of a haul truck taking spoil to one of the spoil dumps. You can see the steam rising off the roads! It was so pretty! (If coal sludge can be pretty?!?)
If you look closely at the photo below, in the mountain face behind the truck, you can see the hints of 2 swirls. Todd says that the "folds" in the mountain in this spot are incredible! He hopes to get a picture in another month when most of the snow is gone of the almost complete swirls in the rock.
We came slowly down the hill and captured another glimpse of the processing plant and main offices. They are in the process building another "Dry" for the employees (shower & locker area)... kind of a contradiction if you ask me? "Dry"... showers???
Coming down the hill to the right we saw the "sunlight" area (name has something to do with one of the companies Teck deals with). This is the area where they put new haul trucks together. At this time of year, the haul truck boxes are shipped in 2 pieces and are welded together into one piece on site. The loads are too heavy for the Spring time road weight restrictions so they come in two pieces. It's not uncommon to see the large loads drive past the house here in Sparwood.
We stopped at the main office for a last washroom break where in the front entrance Teck has a bunch of 3D site maps and photographs of the progression of the mining in certain areas of the Fording River site. It's neat to see how mining the area changes from one year to the next and how the structure of the mountain changes.
On the Fording River site, they have found numerous pieces of evidence of dinosaurs. This is a cast hanging on the wall of a brontasaus foot print found on the site. Numerous fossils have been found and some have been sent to one of the dinosaur museums in Alberta and are on display there from this mine site.
We had a great day. Spencer's behaviour was not up to par but he did pretty well for sitting on a bus for 4.5 hours.
Have a great weekend everyone! Hope you enjoyed your mini tour of the Fording River divison of Teck.