The Province has given Teck Resources Ltd. the green light to begin work on its Baldy Ridge Extension project near Sparwood, which is said to extend the life of the Teck Elkview operations open-pit mine, and extend the life of the project to ensure jobs for approximately 1,000 people for another 30 years.
The Baldy Ridge project is an extension of the current Teck Elkview operations open-pit mine. Elkview produces steel making coal, also known as metallurgical coal or coking coal.
Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, announced this expansion to mayors, councillors and businessmen and women at the Causeway Bay Hotel in Sparwood on Friday, March 24.
Before he spoke, several people stood up and expressed their feelings towards not only Minister Bennett, but Teck Coal as well.
“I’d like to thank Teck Coal, for what they bring to our community,” said Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall. “Without Teck Coal and without the mining, I’m not sure that we would be here.”
“I know that a lot of what’s happened in this area, is thanks to Bill Bennett,” he continued.
Teck’s Senior Vice President of Coal, Robin Sheremeta referenced the Baldy Ridge Extension as a way to secure a strong future.
“As much as we’ve been here for a long time, obviously we hope we’re going to be here a lot longer,” he said. “I hope my family one day raises their family here.”
Bennett was then welcomed to the podium.
Speaking to the expansion at Baldy Ridge, he encouraged everyone to think of this project as if it were a new mine.
“This is a really big deal,” he said.
He then spoke of some of his announcements of new mines in his career, and how Baldy Ridge stands out from the rest.
“We’ve built some new mines in the province, and none of them I can say, have a thousand jobs associated with them, for 30 years,” he said. “So I think it’s important that we all celebrate that.”
Bennett then spoke to the long-term potential of this mine, and what 30 years of guaranteed resources means for the people working there.
“If you’re a young mechanic, electrician, or truck driver, man or woman, you could work your whole career at Baldy Ridge,” said Bennett.
Bennett said the approval for the Baldy Ridge Extension was a long and difficult procedure.
Back in 2013 in the last provincial election, selenium was a hot topic. Bennett said the rise in selenium levels came as a surprise for everyone, and this posed a large challenge to approve a new expansion. In 2013, Bennett recalled being challenged that he was exaggerating when he suggested they would soon run into trouble with their existing mines. He again stated that this process to approve the new expansion was long, technical, and much needed.
“This really is a celebration,” said Bennett.
Bennett reiterated the significance of this approval, and concluded his announcement with some statements about mining in British Columbia and its effect on the economy.
“When you look at the Province of British Columbia, and you actually think about the amount of land that is used for mining… You can’t even see the dot on the provincial map,” he said. “Out of that little wee tiny dot, comes about $8 billion dollars in economic development, every year.”
“I think the future of the industry here in particular, is very bright.”
This was the last announcement Minister Bennett would make to members of council in Sparwood before his retirement, and so he thanked everyone for their support over the years.
“I thank you again, for allowing me to try to serve you as the MLA here over the years, it really has been an honour for me,” he concluded.