It may be more than 1,000 kilometres away, but devastating news delivered to residents of Tumbler Ridge could very well be felt here in Prince Rupert.
Walter Energy announced last Tuesday its plans to immediately close the Wolverine mine, resulting in the loss of 415 job in the community, and completely idle the Brazion mine near Chetwynd by July, affecting approximately 280 employees.
While job losses total nearly 700, here on the North Coast the impact will be at Ridley Terminals Inc., which ships much of the coal from the mines to customers overseas. In 2013 the two mines moved a total of 3.6 million tonnes of metallurgical coal, while the total amount of metallurgical coal moved through the terminal that year was 7.8 million tonnes.
However, Ridley Terminals corporate affairs manager Michelle Bryant said what the closure of those mines means has yet to be determined.
“There will be an impact, but what that impact will be is unknown as one of the mines will continue to be open for some time,” she said.
“At this point I cannot say exactly what it will be.”
In making the announcement, Walter Energy CEO Walter J. Scheller III said market conditions were to blame.
“These coal reserves remain valuable assets. However, given the current metallurgical coal pricing environment, our best course of action at this time is to idle these operations until we can achieve reasonable value from these reserves,” he said.
The company gave no time frame as to when operations at the Brazion mine may resume.