April 18, 2024
Train cars are loaded with coal at a Teck Resources Elkview Operations steelmaking coal mine in the Elk Valley near Sparwood, British Columbia.

Cleanup of pollution from Teck coal mines to cost billions more than estimate, says report

Non-profit study finds it will cost $6.4 billion to clean up toxic runoffs, three times the amount set by the province

Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. has “severely underplayed” the cost that will be required to reverse rising selenium concentrations in waterways due to toxic runoffs from its coal mines in British Columbia, according to a new report.

Wildsight, a non-profit based in Kimberley, B.C., said it will cost at least $6.4 billion to implement Teck’s current plan to tackle selenium levels to finish building water-treatment plans by 2027 and then operate them for 60 years. That’s about three times more than the $1.9-billion reclamation security that has been set, it said.

A reclamation security is a financial assurance that miners provide to provinces to cover any costs in case of an emergency and any damages caused due to the operations. It is designed to ensure the financial burden of such an event does not fall on taxpayers.

“When we saw that number, $1.9 billion, we thought it was quite low and commissioned a consultant,” Simon Wiebe, Wildsight’s mining policy researcher, said. “It’s three times higher than what is held by the B.C. government and that’s just one part of their reclaiming process. There’s still all of the land, more water, lot of things to do on top of this.”

A Teck spokesperson denied the findings and said Wildsight’s estimates were “inaccurate and inconsistent” with calculations made under British Columbia’s government policy.

“Their use of simplified assumptions overstate ongoing water treatment operating costs alone by 50 to 60 per cent,” Maclean Kay said.

Teck’s stock declined about 1.3 per cent on Tuesday as of noon in Toronto.

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