Virtual Museum ID: 19-MEM07

Specimen Summary

Coal is a kind of sedimentary rock made almost entirely of carbon, formed as decaying plants are buried and gradually transformed to rock over time. Variable amounts of other elements, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur, are also present in coal. At first, the decaying organic matter forms peat, then lignite and eventually, after millions of years, coal. If heating and compaction continue, or the coal is subjected to high temperatures and pressures, anthracite will ultimately form. Coal is usually found as long thin beds, called seams, which are either mined underground or in large open pits.

Specimen Data


The information listed below relates to the current holding location or collection that the sample is from, and whether the item is viewable at that location or is part of a private collection. Coordinates are given as guides, and we remind you that collecting specimens from these locations is not allowed. Caution is advised visiting such sites and Below BC assumes no responsibility for any injuries or trespassing charges that may occur as a result of the viewer entering these sites.

Collection Details

Original Collection:

Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources of Cranbrook (MEM)

Sub Collection:


Collection ID:


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Date Added to VM:


Location Information

Sample Origin:

Sparwood, B.C.

Specific Site:

Michel Creek

UTM Easting:


UTM Northing:



11 (NAD 83)

Coordinate Accuracy:


Specimen Details

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Primary Features:


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Advanced Geological Information


The following section provides geological data relating to the specimen or the site it was collected from, when available. Information has been obtained from various sources including private and government datasets but may not be up to date. Any geological time periods or ages listed often relate to the primary geology of the area, and may not be the actual date of an event such as mineral formation.

Geological Formation:

Mist Mountain Formation (Kootenay Group)

Geological Period:

Jurassic to Cretaceous

Stratigraphic Age:

66 to 145 Million Years

Geological Belt:


Geological Terrane:

Ancestral North America

Minfile ID:


Site Details:

The McGillivray occurrence is located approximately 15 kilometres southeast of Sparwood, British Columbia, in the Michel Creek area.

Up to twelve coal seams ranging in thickness from 4.0 to 0.2 metres were encountered in drill holes along the pipeline right of way northeast and south of the McGillivray Station. The seams are interbedded with shale, siltstone and sandstone of the Jurassic- Cretaceous Mist Mountain Formation (Kootenay Group). Beds dip west between 8 and 60 degrees (generally approximately 30 degrees). The area is bounded to the east by the Erickson normal fault, which trends approximately north to north-northwest.

The seams in the area from oldest to youngest are L10 (3.4 metres), 10 (4.9 metres), 9 (2.7 metres), 8 (7.6 metres), 7 (4.9 metres), 6 (2.1 metres), 5 (3.5 metres), U5 (2.1 metres), 4 (2.6 metres), U4 (5.8 metres), 3 (5.3 metres) and U3 (7.0 metres). The values in brackets are average thicknesses. The coal is very high in ash content.

Exploration in the area dates back to the late nineteenth century. Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company mapped the property in 1964, and also excavated 7 trenches, 2 adits, and drilled at least 12 exploratory drilling holes. In-place, partially explored reserves reported in 1964 were 153,470,000 tonnes at a pitch of 30 to 90 degrees and with 0 to 457 metres of cover; and 13,324,000 tonnes with 457 to 762 metres of cover (Coal Assessment Report 430). In 1969, Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company mined the McGillivray Pit at the north end of the property, and it is estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 tonnes of coal was produced (Coal Assessment Report 983).

Following environmental studies and a bulk sample permit, McGillivray Mining Ltd mined approximately 20,000 tonnes of coal at the McGillivray site in 1995. In 1996, Fording Coal purchased McGillivray’s property rights and mined another 30,000 tonnes of coal. Fording completed two drill programs on the property, completing 18 holes in 1998, and 18 holes in 1999 (Coal Assessment Report 983).

CoalMont Pty Ltd of Australia is advancing the Michel Creek Coking Coal Project through its Canadian subsidiary CanAus Coal Ltd, which includes exploring and developing the Loop Ridge Mine (McGillivray). At Loop Ridge in 2013, exploration consisted of drilling 37 reverse circulation holes, 4 pilot holes, and 8 large diameter holes totalling 9260 metres for coal seam rank variability and coal quality characteristics (Coal Assessment Report 923). In 2014, exploration consisted of drilling 66 reverse circulation holes, 19 pilot holes, 13 large diameter holes, 8 HQ3 core holes, and 2 large diameter reverse flood holes, totalling 19,809 metres. The objective of the drilling was for coal seam rank variability characterization and coal quality analysis (Coal Assessment Report 983). Drilling has identified 20 coal seams with cumulative thickness of 70 metres within a 504 metre stratigraphic section of the Mist Mountain Formation. Drilling continued in 2015, along with resource modelling and environmental studies. CanAus Coal Ltd entered into the Environmental Assessment process for the Loop Ridge Mine in October 2015.

As of 2015, the focus of the Michel Creek Coking Coal Project is the proposed Loop Ridge Mine, which has a potential for an approximately 10 year mine life, with opportunities for expansion in other areas. The proposed open-cut project is estimated to have an annual production of 3.3 million tonnes of raw coal (2 million tonnes clean coal), with an average production rate of 5500 tonnes of clean coal per day, based on a 365 day operating period. Initial raw tonnage estimates indicate potential resources between 120-140 million tonnes of coking coal (not National Instrument 43-101 compliant). Geological modelling and drill hole and coal quality data correlation is underway in order to define a National Instrument 43-101 compliant resource.

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