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CRO job losses to peak in summer 2020, says Teck Coal

Tyler Waugh

Teck Coal Ltd. will see a staged reduction in its estimated 400 person workforce at Cardinal River Operations between January and November 2020.

Company representatives told a crowd of around 75 people at a Dec. 5 town hall meeting that the largest workforce reduction will take place between June and September as the site finishes production and processing operations.

“We will be wrapping things up between June and August of next year and at that point we will be moving toward care and maintenance,” said Matt Cole, general manager of CRO.

“We will be moving toward closure towards at the end of 2021 or 2022, but that is very early numbers. We are going to work through those details and get a better feel for what will happen.”

CRO had a shutdown date of 2019 for a number of years, said Cole, but as 2019 approached the company took a look at a number of their pit areas and found an opportunity to continue mining activity for another 10 months into 2020.

Cole also spoke to the decision not to pursue a potential expansion that would have extended the CRO active operations for several more years. CRO began looking at expansion at Redcap in 2016-2017, said Cole, and presented the plan to the board of directors for consideration.

“We worked hard at having the best look at it that we possibly could,” Cole said.

“At the end of the day after several meetings, it came down to what we think the long-term price of coal was going to be. It wasn’t an easy decision, it was one of those business decisions that were right on the bubble. It actually took three separate board meetings to make the final decision, but the final decision at the end of the day was that we wouldn’t proceed with Redcap.”

Cole said that the coal quality was ‘pretty good’ at Redcap with an estimated quantity of 13 million tonnes. He added that the price point for Redcap’s coal would not have been great and added that one of the primary challenges for viability was the distance from CRO’s base of operations at 35 km away. In comparison, he said the haul from the Cheviot mine was considered long by industry standards at around 23 km.

Teck announced in May 2019 that it would not pursue Redcap and that CRO would be working toward the shut down of operations in the second half of 2020.

Teck said at the meeting that it will retain an estimated workforce of between 30-60 people for the care and maintenance phase. About 40 jobs were slated to be phased out in January 2020, but Cole said that number wouldn’t be as high due to the number of workers who have already moved on to other companies. He said that most of the employees who have moved on have found work that will allow them to remain in Hinton.

Please see next week’s edition for more information from the Teck town hall.