Alberta

(Map) Alberta
ALBERTA, COAL BASIN
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ALBERTA (EN: Alberta; RU: Альберта) is the largest coal basin in the western Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan provinces); the southern region of the basin, which is non-significant in the area terms, is located within the limits of the USA. The area of the basin is more than 250 thousand square kilometres. The total reserves are more than 228 billion tonnes (the proven reserves are more than 46 billion tonnes); the large part of these reserves is concentrated in the western part of the basin (map). The major coal extracting areas are: Crowsnest, Byron Creek (Corbin), Elkford, Coleman (Eastern Kootenay), Cascade, Cadomin-Luscar, Coalspur, Smokey, Wabamun (Calgary), Batley River (Castor), Sheerness. It is intensively developed since the 1960s.

It is situated in the Alberta foredeep in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains. The coal-bearing is associated with the subcontinental and paralic depositions of the Cretaceous and Paleogene (of the total thickness of more than 4000 metres). The monoclinal bedding of the coal-bearing stratum is in the eastern (platform) part of the basin, and further to the west, to the Rocky Mountains, is sharply complicated by the folding, scaly thrusts, and other disjunctive violations, and also by the intrusions. The major industrial coal-bearing is confined to the formations of the Kootenay, Luscar (Lower Cretaceous), Edmonton (Upper Cretaceous) and Paskapoo (Paleogene). There are in the Kootenay formation the 12-47 coal seams (of the thickness of 1-15 metres), in the Luscar formation the 2-16 seams (1.8-12 metres), in the Edmonton formation up to 14 seams (0.9-1.7 metres), in the Paskapoo formation up to 5 seams (up to 2.7 metres). The coals in the western part of the basin are of the high quality, coking, anthracites and sub-bituminous; the coals in the eastern (platform) part are brown; the hard coals are characterized by the indicators: the humidity is 1.2-6.1%, the ash content is 5.7-8.7%, the content of the volatile substances is 10.9-24%, the content of the sulfur is 0.2-0.5%; the heat of combustion is 32.21-59.04 megajoules per kilogram.

There are working in the 11 major coal extracting regions the 13 open pit mines (80% of the extraction, 1978) and 4 underground mines. There prevails at the mines the chamber and room-and-pillar systems of the development with the extraction by the short-stope combined cutter-loaders. There are used in the open pit mines at the overburden stripping works the draglines with the buckets of the small capacity; at the extraction of the coal the mechanical shovels and automatic loaders. The largest coal extracting company is the "Manalta Coal Ltd.", which owns the enterprises in the Sheerness, Batley River, and Wabamun (the "Roseline", "Whitewood", "Highvale", "Vesta" open pit mines) regions. There have been extracted in 1978 by this company more than 7 million tonnes of the thermal coal, of which 4.7 million tonnes at the "Highvale" open pit mine, the extraction of this open pit mine has increased in 1979 to 6 million tonnes. There holds the 1st place in the quantity of the owned reserves the "Luscar Ltd." company, which owns the coal extracting enterprises in the Batley River, Coalspur, Cadomin-Luscar regions, "Luscar", "Diplomat", and other coal open pit mines. There have been extracted by this company in 1978 the 3.3 million tonnes of the hard coal.

There extract the coking grades of the coal the "Kaiser Resources Lim." (the Crowsnest region) company, 5.6 million tonnes of the coal, and the "Fording Coal Ltd." company, 2.8 million tonnes (1978). The total extraction of the coal in the basin has constituted approximately 22 million tonnes in 1978 (including the coking one approximately 12 million tonnes). The coking coals from the enterprises of Alberta are exported to Japan, and also in the non-significant quantities to the Martinique island, Argentina, China, India, South Korea. The coal is exported through the Vancouver port, which is connected by the railway lines with the major centers of the extraction. The thermal coals are used at the electrical power plants in the Ontario and Alberta provinces. They perform on the Alberta territory the developments of the other types of minerals, including the sulfur, natural gas, oil, and bitumina (map).