Black Press file photo

Black Press file photo

RDEK board hears update on Teck operations

Company making progress on water quality issues, says representative.

A representative from Teck Resources recently appeared before the RDEK to provide an update on company operations and economic impacts for the region.

Nic Milligan, the manager of Community & Aboriginal Affairs, opened his presentation by acknowledging a recent fatality at Fording River, where a contractor died after a floating excavator he was operating flipped in a tailings pond.

“It’s still under investigation and our thoughts go out to the family and friends and the community of Pat Dwyer,” Milligan said.

Milligan ran through company operations and provided updates on profits, spending and water quality in the Elk Valley.

He noted the company had gross profits of $6.1 billion in 2017, with 26.6 million tonnes of coal produced mostly from five mine sites in the Elk Valley.

Roughly 60 per cent of coal is sent to West coast ports where it is shipped to Asian markets.

Milligan said last year, the company dished out $600 million in local procurement spending stretching from Cranbrook and Kimberley to the Alberta border. The company, which spent 575 million in wages and benefits last year, employs roughly 4,000 people with approximately 538 living in the Cranbrook/Kimberley area.

Overall economic value generated and distributed as part of company operations top $2.7 billion.

Milligan also provided an update on the first quarter of 2018, noting that Teck Resources has sold 6.1 million tonnes of coal with $816 million in profits. Coal prices will remain high due to demand from Asia, particularly China, paired with depletion of coal resources in Eastern Europe and difficulties global operators have in getting their product to sea ports.

Milligan added that Teck Resources also had a production issue earlier in January due to a pressure event at the Elkview Operations which resulted in a loss of 200,000 tonnes.

Milligan called water quality one of the company’s top priorities and touched on water quality in the Elk Valley, noting that a treatment plant at Line Creek has finished construction but is currently offline. The company is introducing a new Advanced Oxidation Process treatment plan and is planning to be back up in operation by the fall.

A calcite treatment facility was introduced at the Greenhills Operations late last year, and there are plans for two more facilities to go online later this year, Milligan added.

Milligan also told the board that the company is working on a new natural process to treat water containing selenium.

“What we’ve discovered is that selenium producing rock, when it’s submerged in water in an anaerobic environment, it has the essentially the same effect, though at a slow pace, than that of a water treatment facility, the same biological reactions take place so it naturally reduces selenium,” Milligan said.

“So we’ve created a facility at our Elkview operations where we pump mine-affected water in one side, allow it to transition through, we feed the bacteria a little bit of food to keep them active, and after a 90-day retention, it is reducing the selenium on par with a water treatment plant, so it is a less energy-intensive to treat water and we’re quite optimistic about the opportunity this provides in the future.”

Milligan said Teck Resources has 54 agreements with Indigenous groups, including $138 million in spending with Indigenous owned businesses.