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Posted: July 6, 2020

Responsible coal mining is a shared goal of everyone

Letter to the Editor

I am writing to comment on the e-KNOW article from June 29, 2020 (“Wildsight joins calls for federal EA for Castle expansion”).

As the president of the 1,200-member local of the United Steelworkers (USW) at Teck’s Fording River Operations, the Castle expansion project is of great concern to me.

In a recent Op Ed (“Elk Valley needs to get behind responsible coal mining in B.C.”, June 10, 2020) jointly written with the local union president representing the Elkview and Coal Mountain Operations (1,000 members), we agreed that responsible coal mining is a shared goal of everyone in the Elk Valley and noted that “Teck’s Castle Project is undergoing the robust Environmental Assessment process that the British Columbia government has put in place. This will not only ensure that the project is environmentally sound, but it secure the employment of 1,200 USW members and support their families and communities into the future.”

We fear, however, that there is a real push to shut-down our industry starting with blocking the Castle expansion. To be clear, this is not a “new” mine, but rather the future of the Fording River Operation (FRO). As the existing coal supply is depleted (by 2030), the Castle expansion allows FRO to continue to produce steel-making coal utilizing existing infrastructure and continuing to support thousands of jobs in the valley for years to come.

USW takes seriously our responsibility to ensure that responsible, sustainable, steel-making coal mining continues in the Elk Valley. Over 2,000 USW members and thousands of other working families in the region depend on this industry for their livelihood. We also care deeply about ensuring that mining is done safely, in a manner that mitigates against environment impacts, and is sustainable.

Miners not only work in the valley; we also live here. And we want to keep it that way.

Adam Connell,
President, USW Local 7884

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