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Teck to end Cardinal River Operations in 2020

Tyler Waugh

A mine that provides as many as 400 jobs and has been a pillar of Hinton’s economy for 50 years will shut down in the second half of 2020.

Teck Resources Ltd. announced May 30 that it had decided not to pursue the MacKenzie Redcap project, a mine expansion that would have added years of activity to its steelmaking coal Cardinal River Operation near Cadomin.

Teck said in a follow up press relase to local media on June 1 that the decision about MacKenzie Redcap was made after a review of the project economics.

Teck did not elaborate when asked what aspect of the project economics had changed since the application for the MacKenzie Redcap expansion was filed with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in May 2018.

Nic Milligan, manager of social responsibility for Teck Coal Ltd., said only that the project economics had been reviewed over the last few months.

“This is understandably disappointing for everyone at Cardinal River, and we want to thank all employees for their continued focus on safety, sustainability and productivity as we work through this transition,” Milligan said.

CRO produces steelmaking coal – also called metallurgical coal or coking coal, which is used to make steel. Activity began at CRO in 1969 and the MacKenzie Redcap announcement came just days before a community barbecue to celebrate 50 years of operations.

A period of economic and population growth for the Hinton area in the 1970s coincided with the commencement of mining activity at CRO.

Milligan said there is a workforce of around 400 people at CRO and, according to a presentation made to Hinton council by Teck representatives in April 2018, around 340 of those CRO employees live locally.

“A workforce will also be required beyond 2020 to manage transition to care and maintenance and future closure and reclamation activities,” said Milligan, adding that Teck will be communicating with employees until the expected conclusion of mining in second half of 2020.

Milligan said the MacKenzie Redcap development would have extended production at Cardinal River to around 2027, at an estimated 1.9 million tonnes of steelmaking coal production per year.

According to info on the AER website, the coal was to be processed at the existing processing plant at the neighbouring Luscar mine site. CRO had anticipated that the project would increase the total disturbance on the mine site by about 606.5 hectares.

The CRO slide show presentation to council also indicated that the average hourly wage was around $30 per hour and that around $23 million was spent in 2017 on goods and services with local suppliers.

Original June 1 post:

Teck has announced that, based on a review of project economics, it will not be advancing the MacKenzie Redcap project at Cardinal River Operations. The suspension of MacKenzie Redcap means that mining is expected to conclude at Cardinal River Operations (CRO) in the second half of 2020.

“All affected employees will be notified and will be supported throughout this transition, including identifying potential opportunities for Cardinal River employees to move to roles at other Teck operations where possible,” stated Lisa Risvold Jones on behalf of Teck CRO in a release issued early this morning.

“This is understandably disappointing for everyone at Cardinal River, and for the MacKenzie Redcap team. I want to thank all employees for their continued focus on safety, sustainability and productivity as we work through this transition.”

Moving forward, Teck will also be engaging with government, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and other stakeholders as it begins the process of transitioning CRO towards closure.

Please see the June 6 edition of The Hinton Voice for more coverage.