Sparwood’s commercial Middleton Subdivision, which will contain an 85,000-square-foot Komatsu Mining Corp. sales and service facility continues to develop.
The $40-million facility is set to be fully up and running by the end of 2021. The facility is being built on an acquired 15-acre parcel of land, purchased from the District of Sparwood.
District of Sparwood Mayor, David Wilks said the Middleton Subdivision was built knowing that Teck Resources was going to build an administrative building at some point in time.
“Komatsu came on board as well, because they needed a place for a new shop, so it worked out really well for us with Komatsu, and we negotiated very hard with them to get them to come here,” he said. “Now we continue to work with Teck to try and get them to build their administrative office here as well.”
Nic Milligan, Manager, Community & Aboriginal Affairs with Teck said in a statement that, “We are currently assessing options for a new office building in Sparwood. We look forward to providing more information as it becomes available.”
Wilks said the subdivision was completed in 2018 with funding from the Federal and Provincial Governments, as well as the District of Sparwood.
“[The Komatsu project] is just in the process, if you drive by you can see them working diligently,” he said. “They are trying to get the foundation in before it freezes up, so they are putting their pilings in now. They will have everything up and running by the end of 2021.”
Komatsu’s general project contractor Scott Builders Inc. said in a statement, “[We] are extremely proud to be working on the Komatsu construction project in Sparwood. While the build has its own unique challenges and constraints, it is very exciting to be playing an integral role in a project that will have a beneficial impact on the local economy and ultimately the residents of Sparwood.”
Scott Builders said the Komatsu facility will include state-of-the-art machining tools, personal safety equipment, and many building management systems, which considers employee wellbeing and environment sustainability.
“Scott Builders is committed to continuing to provide safe, effective, and beneficial general contracting services to the Elk Valley region.”
Wilks also said the facility presents an immense benefit to Sparwood.
“I think it’ll be huge,” he said. “This is going to be their Western Canada operations and they are going to have some of the most advanced equipment anywhere in Canada. It’s what they call a project of excellence, so a lot of their innovative ideas and equipment will be working here, shovels, drills and other pieces of equipment that Komatsu owns around the world. So it’s pretty impressive.”
The spinoff will be lots of new jobs, Wilks said.
“Highly technical work, trades, welding, heavy duty mechanics – they’ll all be based out of Sparwood, so it’s pretty awesome,” he explained. “We worked hard to get them here. There were other areas in Canada where they were looking, but they recognized that a significant portion of their daily operations are here in the valley.”
Will the current downturn in the price of steelmaking coal affect Sparwood’s development ambitions?
“It doesn’t appear to have affected [Komatsu] at all,” explained Wilks. “Certainly we go through these ebbs and flows all the time in the coal industry. Coal markets are a fickle thing from a global perspective and Teck, along with BHP and others – the big movers and shakers in the world for metallurgical coal – they feed off each other and are very reliant on China and India and all those emerging markets for steelmaking coal. When China and India have a little hiccup, we also have a hiccup.”