From Energy & Mining International
Its relationships with local communities and government agencies were critical to Conuma Coal’s successful reopening of two British Columbia mines.
By Tim O’Connor
When it took over three mines in Canada last year, no one knew the name “Conuma Coal.” But the newly formed coal mining company pledged to bring back jobs and treat the surrounding communities with integrity. “I made a commitment to them that I wouldn’t do something that didn’t result in long-term security for their family,” President Mark
Nine months later, Conuma is proving that was more than talk. Its dedication to worker safety and collaboration with local officials and First Nations groups
“This showed proof of how well our employees are buying in,” he says. “Those are the results of treating a team right and building a group of owners that are very much together in the output of the organization.”
Ramping Up Production
Conuma began in 2016 when its investors purchased three Canadian coal mines from Walter Energy, but the seeds of the company were planted a year earlier. In mid-2015, five coal industry veterans founded ERP Compliant Fuels as a mining company specializing in metallurgical coal, which is used in steel production. ERP started with four distressed mining operations in the United States and later bought three Walter Energy mines.
When the opportunity arose to acquire Walter Energy’s defunct mines in British Columbia, ERP’s leadership realized it would be more efficient to set up a separate Canadian entity that could better manage local regulations and security, while also allowing for some new investors. As a result, Conuma is not a subsidiary of ERP; rather, it is a stand-alone company.
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