VANCOUVER (ResourceInvestor.com) -- Western Canadian Coal is not only riding the coattails of coal industry hype, it has begun making waves of its own on two continents, while trying to meet the demands of a third.
North American investors have been abuzz with the stock's soaring value in recent times; while across the Atlantic, the company made its debut on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) earlier this fall after raising C$20 million towards development of its Dillon opencut coal mine.
The Vancouver-based concern is focused on production for the international market, to the tune of 5 million tonnes of coal per year within 5 years. WCC currently has more than 250 million tonnes of coal under exploration and development planning in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
This past week, the company announced that commercial production at the Dillon mine on its Burnt River property in Northeast B.C. has commenced and that the first 102-car train, loaded-up, had left the town of Tumbler Ridge.
Shipping the coal to Asia shouldn't be a problem. The company has signed an agreement with CN for the transport of its coal from the coal production site to Ridley Terminals at the port of Prince Rupert.
Greg Slocombe, president and chief operating officer of Ridley Terminals, said earlier this week that Western Canadian's contribution to his terminal throughput, along with other Western Canadian coal producers, likely means the eventual handling of between 5 and 8 million tons of coal per year at the location.
Investor sentiment appears to be high on Western Coal's management team as well, which has the requisite contacts necessary to carry out its plan of developing the next generation of coal mines in British Columbia.
President/CEO Gary Livingstone, who was appointed to the post this past May, has served previously as president of Westar Mining Ltd, Alberta-based Luscar Ltd. and Kentucky-based Andalex Resources. In addition, since 1993 he has served as head of the Mining Association of British Columbia.
Shares of Western Canadian, which trade on the Canadian Venture Exchange, have surged in recent days.
The stock, which traded as low as C$0.52 last fall, now enjoys a lofty value of roughly C$6.
Mind you, the Western Canadian story is only part of a bigger picture for coal in the country.
Buoyed on by record prices and insatiable demand from China, the Canadian coal industry is enjoying an unprecedented resurgence. Shares of fellow coal juniors Grande Cache Coal and Pine Valley Mining have also risen considerably in the past month.
"Unlike the junior base-metal companies, many of which have no production and have languished as a result, the coal companies should be reporting robust, near-term cash flow," stated George Topping, an analyst at Sprott Securities in Toronto.
Even industry boosters have apparently been caught of guard. "I've talked to people who are absolutely staggered by this market," said Allen Wright, executive director of the Coal Association of Canada, earlier this week. "They've never seen anything like it."
On the country's Atlantic coast, the Nova Scotia government is calling for proposals from a number of companies interested in opening the Donkin mine, an undeveloped pit with massive reserves.
Meanwhile, back in British Columbia, industry watchers are saying that projects like Dillon are just the beginning of a return to Canada's coal glory days.
Sprott's Topping noted that more serious production will come from the nearby Brule deposit, as well as Perry Creek, which he dubbed Western Canada's "flagship mine".