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CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVES: Coal is golden in Saskatchewan

There is a rush on in Saskatchewan, not for gold but for coal. Dozens of companies have announced plans to explore ...


There is a rush on in Saskatchewan, not for gold but for coal. Dozens of companies have announced plans to explore and/or develop this fossil fuel. And who could blame them?

Coal prices are rising as never before. Thermal coal contracts are going for US$90/t and upwards. Coking coal contracts have been signed for US$300/t. FORDING reports that the average price per tonne for all its coal products in 2008 averaged US$275, compared to US$93 in 2007 and US$107 in 2006.

The list of would-be Saskatchewan coal miners is long and includes many names not previously associated with the coal sector.

GOLDSOURCE MINES of Vancouver recently made a coal discovery near Hudson Bay while it was testing for kimberlitic material. The company already has permission to drill its claims this summer. Goldsource recently raised $15 million by private placement to fund its activities, and others are hoping to repeat its success.

ALIX RESOURCES and NORTH AMERICAN GEM have received “comfort letters” indicating that their exploration applications are in order from the province. KENT EXPLORATION of Vancouver has entered the hunt, as have CANASIA INDUSTRIES, CLOUDBREAK RESOURCES, GREENCASTLE RESOURCES, REMSTAR RESOURCES, ROCHER DEBOULE MINERALS, SIDON INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES, SILVER FIELDS RESOURCES, WEST HAWK DEVELOPMENT and WESCAN URANIUM.

All this activity is good news for the coal sector in Saskatchewan, Canada’s third-ranking coal producer. But the hunt is not limited to Saskatchewan.

In Manitoba, Greencastle, Silver Fields, West Hawk and WestCan (to name a few) have applied for coal exploration permits.

In Alberta, EAST ENERGY CORP. recently acquired a coal property near Hinton.

High coal prices have driven up share prices at WESTERN CANADIAN COAL of Vancouver. That has takeover rumours swirling for the company that produces 3.7 million tonnes annually from its mines in British Columbia.

Coal has long been considered a “dirty” energy source, but burning it does not have to darken the sky. New technologies are much cleaner than old ones. Emissions can be scrubbed. They can be reduced through the use of pulverized coal injection (PCI) systems. Coal gasification is another clean technology whose time is coming. With the price of oil setting a new record high each week, having plentiful coal as an alternative will be a boon to Canadians.


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