Elkview Operations had a record fourth quarter in 2018.  File photo

Elkview Operations had a record fourth quarter in 2018. File photo

Elk Valley mines boost overall Teck production

Fording River, Elkview achieve record fourth quarter; Fording, Greenhills have bumper year

Two Elk Valley coal mines have helped Teck achieve record fourth quarter production.

The mining company has released its fourth quarter results for 2018, which show its steelmaking coal operations achieved a quarterly production record of 7.3 million tonnes in the fourth quarter.

Manager of Social Responsibility Nic Milligan said this was six per cent higher compared to the same period in 2017.

“This was the result of record fourth quarter production from Fording River, Cardinal River and Elkview,” he said.

According to the Q4 2018 Financial Report, strong production at these operations more than offset the declining production at Coal Mountain Operations near Sparwood, which is reaching the end of its life and will conclude mining activity in early 2019.

Fording River and Greenhills also had a bumper year, achieving record annual production.

While Teck doesn’t disclose specific production numbers by operation, Milligan said the company’s overall annual steelmaking production for 2018 was 26.2 million tonnes, compared to 26.6 million tonnes in 2017.

According to Teck, market expectations are that global steel production and demand for steelmaking coal will remain strong in 2019.

The company expects to produce between 26 and 26.5 million tonnes of coal across all operations this year.

“Assuming that current market conditions persist, annual production from 2020 to 2022 is expected to be higher than 2019, despite the closure of our Coal Mountain Operations in early 2019,” reads the report.

“We continue to advance mining in new areas at our Fording River, Elkview and Greenhills Operations, which will extend the lives of these mines and allow us to increase production to compensate for the closure of Coal Mountain.”

Teck continues to implement water quality management measures required by the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, which aims to stabilize and reverse the trend of selenium and other substances in the watershed.

The West Line Creek Active Water Treatment Facility (AWTF) is now up and running with another plant under construction at Fording River.

LOOK BACK: Elk Valley water treatment plant restarts

Teck is also investigating other water treatment technology, such as saturated rock fills (SRF), with an Elkview SRF trial declared a success.

“The SRF has been in operation for the past 12 months and is demonstrating near complete removal of nitrate and selenium from the feed water,” reads the report.

LOOK BACK: “Bathtubs” offer solution to selenium issue

“Results to date from the full-scale trial show that the technology has the potential to replace future AWTFs, as well as to reduce capital and operating costs for water treatment.”

Teck also expects to continue discussions on potential charges under the Fisheries Act after receiving notice from Canadian federal prosecutors last year.

These relate to discharges of selenium and calcite from coal mines in the Elk Valley.