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Teck transitions to closure this month

Graphic from CRO Closure Planning Survey

Masha Scheele

Teck’s Cardinal River Operations (CRO) continues to transition to closure this month.

“The United Mine Workers of America, Local 1656, and all our employees have been informed of the closure and planned schedule of workforce reductions,” stated Nic Milligan, Teck manager of social responsibility.

Teck announced in October 2019 that workforce reductions at CRO would start in January until November 2020.

The workforce reductions were set to happen in stages as steelmaking coal production declines and the operation moves towards care and maintenance.

“The site will transition to a period of care and maintenance once operations have ended. A small workforce will remain on site for care and maintenance,” Milligan said.

A reduced workforce will also manage future closure and reclamation activities. 

Milligan added that Teck will continue to engage and work with the community to help with employee transitions and mitigate community impacts where possible. 

Closure and reclamation planning has begun, and Teck will provide updates to the community moving forward. The CRO Closure Planning Survey, which ran from Nov. 20, 2019 to Jan. 15, 2020, identified two common themes, including the economic impacts to the surrounding communities, and the need to balance returning the land for public use with environmental and conservation efforts.

Nicole Nicholas, Teck lead social responsibility, stated that those themes would be considered as closure planning progressed, while upholding previous Luscar End Use planning commitments and engaging with Alberta Environment and Parks on the Cheviot End Use planning process.

Out of 201 online responses and 30 paper responses, the majority were interested in CRO for camping, ATV recreation, and “other.” 

When the survey asked what impact respondents would feel from the end of active mining at CRO, 57 out of 188 answered it would be a positive impact attributed mainly to reclamation, environmental and wildlife opportunities, and returned land use for recreation. 

Forty-eight noted it as a negative impact largely due to lost jobs and economic and community impacts.

Top answers on preferred use of these lands after mining were wildlife conservation, camping, and fishing. Conservation, environmental and wildlife considerations, reclamation, and access were frequently mentioned in the feedback section on the development of closure plans. 

Other feedback included ensuring that Teck continues to communicate throughout the process, to consider the economic and community impacts in mitigation planning, and the timeliness of reclamation.