FILE – Teck Mining Company’s zinc and lead smelting and refining complex is pictured in Trail, B.C., on Tuesday November 27, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – Teck Mining Company’s zinc and lead smelting and refining complex is pictured in Trail, B.C., on Tuesday November 27, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Teck Resources Ltd. has withdrawn its application for a massive oilsands mining project just days ahead of an expected government decision, citing the political discourse over climate change.

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta, which was expected to create an estimated 7,000 construction jobs, 2,500 operating jobs and about $12 billion in federal income and capital taxes, but was also expected to produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over 40 years.

In a letter to the federal environment minister, Teck CEO and President Don Lindsay says investors and customers increasingly want jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change.

“This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved,” Lindsay wrote. ”In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project.”

He said Teck is not “merely shying away from controversy” and stands ready to face opposition from a vocal minority.

“Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, that should take place without a looming regulatory deadline.”

Fourteen First Nations and Metis communities signed participation agreements with the company on the mine, and the project was awaiting approval from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which had been expected by the end of the month.

In a joint statement, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan and Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Sunday night they had been informed by Teck that it was withdrawing its application for the mine.

“As a result, Cabinet will no longer be making a decision on this project,” they said.

Cabinet was expected to discuss the project at its meeting on Tuesday. It had until the end of the week to make a decision, though it could have decided to push that deadline back.

Wilkinson has been signalling for weeks that cabinet’s discussion would include the fact that Alberta has not set specific greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, and in recent days specifically asked the Alberta government to enforce its cap on emissions from the oilsands.

Kenney, in a statement, laid blame elsewhere.

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” the premier said. ”The timing of the decision is not a coincidence.”

He pointed to blockades in opposition to RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en territory, where hereditary chiefs oppose a natural-gas pipeline project. Those barricades have paralyzed rail traffic across swaths of Canada for upwards of two weeks.

“Teck’s predicament shows that even when a company spends more than $1 billion over a decade to satisfy every regulatory requirement, a regulatory process that values politics over evidence and the erosion of the rule of law will be fatal to investor confidence,” Kenney said.

In their statement Sunday, Wilkinson and O’Regan said they appreciate the decision Teck made was a difficult one and appeared to keep the door open to rejuvenate this project or others in the future.

“Important parts of Canada’s economy have been built on our natural resource sector and the workers across the country who have powered it for generations. Our government is committed to developing our natural resources sustainably and to creating good, middle class jobs. A strong economy and clean environment must go hand in hand.”

They also praised how Teck went about engaging with Indigenous communities during the project development and review period.

“Their model should be an example for all proponents of future projects,” they said.

News of the cancellation shocked Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam, whose community was one of the 14 to sign agreements with Teck. The First Nation had also just struck a deal with the province to ensure the development would protect the environment and Indigenous culture.

“That’s very astonishing news because we worked hard to get to what we wanted to get,” he said. “I don’t even feel like eating after that news.”

But Frontier was not without its detractors.

On Friday, Canadian author Alice Munro, biologist Jack W. Szostak and 40 other Nobel Prize winners from around the world wrote an open letter to Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urging them to deny the plan and all expansions of the fossil-fuel sector.

“The mere fact that they warrant debate in Canada should be seen as a disgrace,” reads the letter, which appeared on the Guardian’s website. “They are wholly incompatible with your government’s recent commitment to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.”

The Canadian Press

mining

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of the proposed development at the intersection of Leon Avenue and Water Street. (Contributed)
Massive Leon Ave development coming back to Kelowna council

The towers would stand at 24, 28 and 42 storeys, the largest of which would be the tallest building in the city

Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
November temperatures warmer than average in Kelowna

Kelowna won’t see much in the way of rain or snow until around Dec. 10

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna’s Stuart Park outdoor ice rink opening delayed

Recent provincial health orders have again shifted the city’s strategy regarding the popular rink

The Rutland IGA is located in Willow Park Shopping Centre at 590 BC-33. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Customer asked to mask up, throws hot coffee at Rutland IGA employee

The woman grabbed cat food on her way out when she refused to wear a mask

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

RCMP searched for a suspect in Polson Park following an assault on a woman Thursday, Nov. 26. (Morning Star file photo)
Public warned after woman assaulted in Vernon’s Polson Park

RCMP on the hunt for suspect, described as in his 30’s

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

City of Armstrong Public Works Yard. (Google Maps)
Armstrong city staffer threatened in snow removal complaint

Community services manager says ‘veiled threat’ is believed to have been flippant, but is being taken seriously

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Most Read