Teck Resources faces strike threat at Highland Valley Copper mine
Canada’s largest mining company could be forced to idle its single largest source of copper production as soon as Jan. 16 if workers follow through on their threat to strike.
Teck Resources Ltd. said Wednesday it had received a strike notice from the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7619, which represents 1,048 workers at the company’s Highland Valley Copper mine in southwest British Columbia. Negotiations between management and the union are ongoing, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement, with both sides due to sit down Friday with a mediator.
The union is entitled to begin strike action 48 hours after the mediator reports to the B.C. Labour Relations Board, the company said. USW Local 7619 did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reasons behind the potential strike.
Highland Valley is the largest copper mine in Canada and among the largest open pit mines in the world. Workers pulled roughly 119,000 tonnes of copper out of the ground there in 2020, generating revenue of nearly $1 billion, with output planned to grow as much as 38 per cent to 165,000 tonnes by 2025.
Despite being one of four copper mines owned by Teck globally, Highland Valley was responsible for more than 43 per cent of the company’s total copper production in 2020. Last year, the company announced it was considering options to extend the lifespan of Highland Valley to 2040 versus current plans for the mine to close in 2028.
The strike threat comes amid growing concerns of potential shortfalls in global copper supplies amid rising demand. Copper is a key component in increasingly popular items such as electric vehicles and the world will “without a doubt” face supply challenges in the coming years, Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow said during a panel discussion earlier this week.
There’s been too little investment in the red metal and that is already a problem for the sector as consumption rises, he said.