The 228-metre Amakusa Island was about 15 kilometres from Ridley Island, the coal-loading facility south of Prince Rupert.
The port authority says the ship, currently flying under Japan's flag, was shifting its position from a berth at the coal terminal to its assigned anchorage, when it grounded in the outer harbour and visibly listed.
A team of coast guard and other experts assessed the situation and the rising tide helped re-float the bulk carrier about four hours later.
The Amakusa was able to make it to anchorage under its own power and doesn't appear to have caused any environmental damage.
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