September 14th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 36
Pass to lose major employer when mine closes
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock Photo
Pass Herald Reporter
When number thirty-seven is mined out sometime in the next two months, number six will be the last active pit at Teck’s smallest Elk Valley Mine and once that runs dry at the end of 2017, Coal Mountain will have effectively run out of coal.

“We will have exhausted all of our coal resources there,” said Rick Magliocco, senior coordinator environment at Coal Mountain Operations (CMO). “That will be it for mining at Coal Mountain.”

On Sept. 6, a number of Teck’s executives made a presentation to council on the mine’s closure process and announced feedback and engagement opportunities for the workers and communities in both B.C. and Alberta that will be affected when mining stops at the end of next year.

Once a planned expansion was scrapped last November, the fact that mining would cease at Teck Resources Ltd.’s Coal Mountain Operations became a foregone conclusion. Now over 200 workers – over a third of whom are Crowsnest residents – face an uncertain future

Nic Milligan, Teck’s manager of community and aboriginal affairs, said that not all of CMO’s 213 staff and hourly employees would be guaranteed a job after the mine closes.
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“We are working to identify opportunities for existing CMO staff to transition to other Teck operations where possible,” he said. “And we are committed to providing uninterrupted employment for the majority of CMO employees.”

A breakdown of CMO employee home communities, based on mailing addresses of employees in June 2016, reveals that the majority of them live in the Pass:

• 72 – Crowsnest Pass
• 48 – Sparwood
• 35 – Fernie and Hosmer
• 17 – Cranbrook
• 13 – Pincher Creek
• 9 – Lethbridge
• 4 – Kimberley
• 2 – Elkford
• 14 – other communities

Teck is the eighth company to mine coal from Coal Mountain since the Corbin Coal and Coke Company began underground mining in the early 1900s. Open pit mining started in 1940s with Teck acquiring the property in 2009.

Coal Mountain Operations is located in B.C. about 30 kilometres southeast of Sparwood. It produces 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year. The planned expansion called the CMO Phase 2 project was slated to generate an additional 2.25 million tonnes annually.

A feasibility study on Coal Mountain Phase 2 was completed in 2014. The project was in the permitting phase when Teck suspended the application in November 2015, because the project was not economically feasible.
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The company has announced that it could replace the 2.25 million tonnes of annual coal production that were planned from CMO Phase 2 by increasing production from its five other steelmaking coal mines.

Warren Franklin, manager of biodiversity and closure, said CMO would go through several stages of closure: the care and maintenance stage, active closure and post closure.

The care and maintenance stage will last from five to ten years, he said. During that time a small crew will maintain CMO’s coal processing facilities. It will be used if there’s a need to process coal from Teck’s other operations or if market conditions improve and the company proceeds with CMO Phase 2.

The active closure phase will consist of reclamation and decommissioning work and the post closure phase will involve long-term monitoring.

Franklin elaborated on the biodiversity management plan for CMO, which was produced last year. The plan outlines what plants and animals might be living on the site post-reclamation.

The biodiversity management plans also calls for mining offsets. Offsets are conservation actions designed to compensate for the impacts on biodiversity caused by mining. These actions sometimes involve a mining company purchasing a plot of pristine land and protecting it from being ecologically disturbed.

To offset CMO’s ecological footprint, Teck is investing in 150 hectares of conservation land in the Elk Valley, he said.

“These are the last private lands in the flathead valley, all of them are grazing lands for ungulates and they have very important connectivity values,” said Franklin.

Two community engagement sessions on CMO’s closure have been scheduled. They will take place Sept. 20 in Sparwood and Sept. 21 in Blairmore’s Elks Hall at 6 p.m.
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September 14th ~ Vol. 85 No. 36
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