First Coal Corporation

First Coal Corporation

February 10, 2010 09:00 ET

First Coal Applying for Environmental Assessment for Proposed Central South Mining Operation

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 10, 2010) - First Coal Corporation (FCC), a privately held coal mining company developing properties in northeast British Columbia, will move directly into the Environmental Assessment (EA) process regulated by the BC Ministry of the Environment instead of seeking a small mine permit as originally planned.

A key element of the EA process is a rigorous stakeholder consultation with communities in northeastern BC and with Treaty 8 First Nations. Mandated timelines are part of the EA process, typically taking from 18 to 20 months to complete.

First Coal had been planning a first phase of operation involving a small mine, operating at an annual production rate of 245,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal. The small mine phase would have been followed by an EA process and permitting phase that would enable production to step up to 3 million tonnes per year.

"The Board has concluded that the best approach going forward is to forego the small mine phase and immediately begin the environmental assessment process," says First Coal President and CEO, Doug Smith. "This will mean that there will only be one permitting process and the mine would open at a higher annual rate of production, making it more profitable in the early years than previously contemplated."

Demand for northeastern British Columbia metallurgical coal has increased dramatically with China significantly ramping up steel production. Coal mined at First Coal's Central South property would be transported to Prince Rupert's Ridley Island coal terminal via the existing rail line running near the property.

During February, First Coal plans to do test mining at the Central South property. First Coal will use an innovative, remote controlled underground mining method that results in a significantly reduced project footprint as compared to conventional open pit mining. The method, unique in Canada, accesses the narrow, steeply dipping coal seams using a series of trenches and the ADDCAR Any Dip Highwall Mining System.

First Coal, incorporated in late 2004, has been developing two of its properties - Central South and South Cirque - which contain primarily metallurgical coal. The properties are under tenure license from the Provincial Government and are within the lands covered by Treaty 8, an agreement between the Government of Canada and certain First Nations in Western Canada.

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