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Miner Teck preparing for possible strike at Canada' Westshore coal terminal

Kitco News

(Adds Teck statement, byline)

By Jeff Lewis TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Miner Teck Resources on Thursday said it was preparing for the possible shutdown of a key coal export terminal on Canada's West Coast, after a union notice said strike action against terminal owner Westshore Terminals Investment Corp could commence on Saturday.

Westshore said Wednesday its Westshore Terminals Limited Partnership received a 72-hour strike notice from ILWU Local 502, which represents workers at its coal export terminal at Roberts Bank, British Columbia. The company said it has been in negotiations with the union for several months over a new collective agreement after a previous agreement and two others expired Jan. 31.

While further talks are scheduled, the strike notice will stop work on Dec. 19 resulting in the complete suspension of operations, the company said. The terminal is key for Teck's coal volumes as upgrades to the Canadian miner's own Neptune terminal are not expected to be completed until the end of the first quarter next year, Scotiabank analysts said Thursday in a note. Teck is assessing potential impacts and preparing mitigation strategies, including the ability to ship additional capacity through other terminals, should a strike proceed, spokesman Chris Stannell said.

He cited the company's Neptune terminal and Ridley Terminals, owned by Riverstone Holdings LLC, AMCI Group and the Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nations. "We are hopeful that a fair and reasonable settlement for both parties will be reached as quickly as possible," Stannell said. "We currently have inventory at port and are continuing to load vessels as normal at this time." Westshore did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Union President Rob Ashton declined comment.

The terminal has throughput capacity of 33 million tonnes, according to its website.

Teck has boosted shipments of steelmaking coal to China to take advantage of curbs on Australian imports.

(Reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by Alexander Smith and Lisa Shumaker)

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