July 12, 2011  
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   Volume 81 - Issue 28 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
"We'd rather have the sky full than stretch it out."
- Jamie Margetak  
Blairmore Fire Chief   
   

 

 
A while ago the Crowsnest Pass had a visit from consultants working on Teck’s environmental and socioeconomic study as part of their application to expand the operating life of the Fording River Mine. The expansion is called Swift Project and Teck also made a presentation to council regarding this development.
The application process is quite detailed and is governed by the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act. What is interesting and welcomed from our perspective is the company is interested about the impact of their operations on this side of the border.
One important issue is the housing situation in our area. This is of interest not only because of the Swift Project, but also because, according to reports, Teck is looking to expand their coal production from 24 million tons to 28 million tons per year. I don’t think this number includes what they can mine in Quintette B.C, should that development also move forward.
The company’s commitment to increasing production is evident by the type and amount of equipment they are bringing into the valley.
Like any guy, I am very impressed by trucks, and one in particular caught my eye - the Caterpillar 797, Finning is supplying to Fording River. What got my attention is the truck is rated for 363 metric tonnes, which would mean it has a pretty big box. The truck is powered by a 20 cylinder quad turbocharged diesel rated close to 4000 hp. This is like a good size tug boat. I don’t know how much one of these is worth, but I would bet that one can have more than two D11’s for the price of this truck.
Beyond what we read about Teck’s plans in the press, these types of purchases illustrate the company is moving forward and expanding their operations.
 

Also, new equipment means more people to operate it, as well as, to maintain it.
As with all large companies, Teck is faced with a difficult labour environment when trying to attract and retain qualified personnel. This is especially important as Northern Alberta’s economy is gaining steam and the oil-patch recruiters are reaching into all corners of the country to attract workers.
As someone who has spent many years working up north, I can testify to the attraction the oil economy has for many people. But nothing comes without a price.
Whereas the wages up north are substantially higher than what happens here, the cost of living, which really means housing, is substantially higher as well. For example, a home which can be bought in the Crowsnest Pass for $365,000 will cost about $750,000 in Fort McMurray. I know this not only because I am in real estate, I also have a sister in Fort McMurray who is in the process of selling her home to move down to Calgary.
So while the lure of high wages up north may be high, it is really only the price of admission onto an ever- moving treadmill, should one contemplate the reality of a $600,000 mortgage payment.
Although Teck may not be in a position to compete directly on wages with a Syncrude or a Suncor, the company can compete directly with the northern giants when it comes to the quality of life their employees can enjoy in the communities that support the local mines.
The cost and availability of housing in the surrounding communities is very important when trying to attract the people the mines need. Beyond housing, the close proximity to the large urban areas such as Calgary and Lethbridge is also important. And, as far as recreational opportunities are concerned, Crowsnest Pass is really the place to be.
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   Volume 81 - Issue 28 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
 
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