Teck's Elkview Operations is one of four steelmaking coal locations in the Elk Valley. (Teck website)

Officials push to keep Elk Valley coal interests under Canadian ownership

Results for Teck shareholder vote to split company into Elk Valley Resources expected April 26

Elected officials in the East Kootenay and beyond are speaking out as shareholders for Teck Resources prepare to vote on a plan to spin off the Elk Valley coal operations into a separate company.

Teck is asking for shareholder approval to separate the coal business into Elk Valley Resources, while the rest of the mining portfolio will be rolled into Teck Metals Corp., which will be involved with low-cost base metal production and copper development.

The vote results are expected to be announced at a special meeting on Wednesday, April 26.

The separation plan comes amid recent efforts by Swiss-based Glencore to take over Teck Resources Ltd., which the company board of directors has rebuffed. However, Glencore has stepped up efforts to appeal directly to Teck shareholders, by proposing it would form a metals company and a coal company if shareholders accepted the offer, which includes $8.2 billion in cash and 24 per cent of the metals company.

However, concerns are being expressed by politicians nationally, regionally and locally.

“The ownership of Teck’s operations in the Elk Valley is a national conversation this week as shareholders prepare to cast votes that will impact the company’s future,” said Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, in a statement. “I will always support the working women and men of the Elk Valley and see Teck as having the proven capacity to deliver a stable future for mining of metallurgical coal in our area.

“These metallurgical coal mines should remain Canadian, and I will continue to press the [federal] government to add metallurgical coal to its list of critical minerals. I support Teck Resources and thank them for the many decades where they have done right by the mining families of Kootenay-Columbia.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted the federal government is following the future of Teck Resources “very closely,” in a letter addressed to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade this week that included fellow federal cabinet ministers Francois-Philippe Champagne and Jonathan Wilkinson as signatories.

“Headquartered in Vancouver, listed in Toronto, and employing thousands of Canadians, particularly in B.C., Teck is Canada’s largest diversified mining company, with assets of central importance to our country as we expand our critical minerals value chain and build a clean economy.,” wrote Freeland.

“The mining of critical minerals is key to the future — and only companies that make serious commitments to ESG [environmental, social, governance] and strong partnerships with Indigenous Peoples will succeed.

“We need companies like Teck here in Canada — companies with a strong commitment to Canada.”

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, the opposition critic for mines, whose riding includes the Elk Valley coal mines, called on the provincial government last week for BC Premier David Eby to recognize good corporate partners in the province and to lobby the federal government over concerns about a potential takeover of critical metallurgical coal resources by a foreign multi-national corporation.

“The loss of Teck’s head office in Vancouver would have a ripple effect on many junior mining and tech operations throughout the city, and major impacts for workers in the Interior and in my region of the Kootenays,” Shypitka said in a BC United statement alongside caucus colleague Todd Stone.

Additionally Elkford Mayor Steve Fairbairn and Sparwood Mayor David Wilks both authorized a joint open letter to Teck shareholders signalling their support of Teck’s plan to siphon off the coal operations to Elk Valley Resources.

“Our communities have a long and shared history with Teck, a company that delivers substantial economic and social benefits for our residents, all while working hard to care for the environment,” reads the letter. “Their large employee base understands our shared priorities for the Elk Valley and is an important part of the fabric of our communities, in turn supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, non-profit organizations, and community events.”