Take a tour

Come along on a mine tour hosted by Teck and Sparwood Chamber of Commerce

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The big green haul truck parked at the Sparwood Chamber of commerce.

The big truck that attracts thousands of visitors each year to the Sparwood Chamber of Commerce. — Kimberly Shellborn photo

Mining is one of the largest industries in the Kootenays. But if you have never worked in a mine, it is possible you may not know or understand all the workings of this huge industry in our own backyard. What happens at the mine? How much can the haul trucks really haul? What is the history of mining in the Elk Valley? These and many other questions are answered on a mine tour offered by Teck and the Sparwood Chamber of Commerce.

The interpretive coal mine tours take place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1 p.m., leaving from the Sparwood Chamber of Commerce. 

The guided bus tour first takes visitors to a lookout point in the Sparwood Heights to get a general overall view. The tour then continues to the Elkview mine close to Sparwood. Once at the mine, the tour starts at the shop, where all the equipment is repaired and maintained. The tour then takes the visitors to a lookout area to see active mining. Standing at the edge of the lookout makes one appreciate the immense size of the mining operations in the Kootenays. 

The enormous haul trucks only look like toy cars moving along the mouth of a large pit where they are dumping rock. The guide points out the completed lines, as well as areas that are currently being mined. Two pieces of retired equipment are displayed on the tour for the visitors to get a chance to walk around and actually see up close what the equipment is like.

A view of the open pit, with a lake at the bottom.

The haul trucks in the distance seem tiny from the lookout point in the Elkview mine. — Kimberly Shellborn photo

Visitors will see a lot of activity along the way: haul trucks, graders and water trucks all going about their regular jobs. The guide shares history about the mine, information about the amount of coal mined and its quality, as well as environmental information.

2 children standing in front of the digger that is displayed on the Elkview mine tour hosted by Teck and the Sparwood Chamber of Commerc.

Mining equipment dwarfs anyone standing next to it. — Kimberly Shellborn photo

The tours cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and children under 5 years old tour free. The tour takes about two hours.

A haul truck with a full load as seen on the tour of the Elkview mine.

A haul truck with a full load as seen on a tour of the Elkview mine. — Kimberly Shellborn photo

Kimberly Shellborn

Kim is the editorial coordinator at Koocanusa Publications. She recently returned to the Kootenays after 15 years in Spain, where she taught English and got to know the food and wine regions of the country. When she’s not writing or taking photographs, she can be found showing her husband and two children all the backcountry trails that she longed for while in Europe. View all of Kimberly Shellborn’s articles

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