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Hinton area coal mine finds financial backer

EDMONTON – The $1.5 billion mine proposed for the Hinton area moved a step closer this week after a leading private investment firm agreed to provide Coalspur Mines with $300 million in credit to fund the first phase of the Vista Coal project.

“This is a significant milestone and enables us to move forward with construction in the second quarter of 2013,” said Dave Montpetit, a Coalspur vice-president.

The commitment letter with EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG) is for a term of eight years. EIG will also be granted 100 million warrants in Coalspur shares.

Coalspur is also in “advanced discussions” with a number of groups in an effort to secure additional funding and to finalize coal marketing arrangements. And it recently announced a deal with Canadian National Rail to move the coal to Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert. The Vista project would be Alberta’s largest export coal mine, shipping up to 12 million tonnes of thermal coal per year to Asia to fuel electrical power plants.

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Coalspur expects to award contracts this spring in order to begin earthworks and mine pre-development work this summer.

It is still awaiting approval from the Energy Resources Conservation Board and hopes to begin logging this winter in the areas planned for construction. The Town of Hinton provided formal public support for the project recently and Coalspur said it has reached an agreement setting terms for ongoing co-operation and collaboration with one of the main aboriginal groups in the area.

The project boundary starts just 10 kilometres south of town. Coalspur has 55,000 hectares of coal leases in the region, but the initial project covers 10,000 hectares over a 20-kilometre stretch of land with three gently dipping coal seams.