Located on Vancouver Island, the Quinsam mine started production in 1986 and has more than 40 million tonnes of coal resources.
Awarding the Mines Act amendment permit to allow the 7-South expansion, BC Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said the Quinsam mine would continue to provide more than 500 direct and indirect jobs in the Campbell River area.
Hillsborough Resources operates the mine although it was acquired by commodity trader Vitol Anker in 2009.
“We’re very pleased to receive the permit,” Hillsborough Resources chief executive officer David Turnbull said.
“We appreciate the province’s diligence in ensuring that Quinsam mine remains an innovative and high-quality operation. We’ve worked closely with them so that we can continue to meet or exceed all regulatory requirements and protect key local environmental values.”
Amid resistance from environmental groups, a proposed open pit at Quinsam was shelved in late 2007.
Under the recent approval which has been criticised by green groups, the mine will store coarse coal rejects in the mined-out areas of 7 South which will be flooded with water.
The provincial government has a “BC jobs plan” which aims to introduce up to eight new mines and approve nine mine expansions by 2015.