Located south of Lake Wabamun, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Edmonton, Alberta, Highvale Mine is one of three TransAlta-owned surface coal mines, and Canada’s largest surface strip coal mine, covering more than 12,600 hectares. TransAlta through its wholly owned subsidiary, SunHills Mining Limited Partnership assumed operating and management control of the Highvale Mine in 2013.
Highvale has been in operation since 1970. Within this area seven pits are currently licensed and in various stages of mining (pits 03 – 09). TransAlta received a licence to develop, operate and reclaim a new mine pit (pit 09) from the Alberta Energy Regulator in the spring of 2015. Pit 09 is located south of pit 08 and north of the North Saskatchewan River.
Surface coal mining involves salvaging of topsoil and subsoil for later replacement, then removing overlying rock layers to expose and extract coal reserves, followed by reclamation of the mined area. Highvale operates four draglines for this purpose.
Approximately 8 million tonnes of low-sulphur-content thermal-grade coal are mined at Highvale each year and delivered to TransAlta’s Sundance and Keephills thermal generating plants. The Keephills 3 thermal plant began commercial operations in 2011 requiring an additional 1.8 million tonnes each year.
Since mining began, TransAlta has reclaimed 1,455 hectares of the 5,865 hectares of land that have been mined at Highvale. 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.