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Teck gives up amid Canadian tensions

The miner abandons its oil sands plan as long-term fissures between opposing lobbies claim another investment casualty

The row over Canadian mining firm Teck Resources’ proposed C$20.6bn ($15.3bn) oil sands mining project came to a sudden and unexpected end this week, days before the Canadian cabinet was to announce a decision regarding its future. The firm’s CEO Don Lindsay released a letter sent to the federal environment minister stating the company was withdrawing its regulatory application for the project (see Row engulfs Canadian oil sands project). 

In the letter, Lindsay said the Frontier mining project was putting his company “squarely at the nexus” of longstanding tensions in Canada between natural resource extraction and First Nation land claims, as well as the battle between energy development and climate considerations. 

“It is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project,” Lindsay wrote. “Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and indigenous governments to work through.” 

Teck announced it will be taking a C$1.13bn write-down on the Frontier cancellation.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny links Teck’s decision to “federal inaction” by the Trudeau administration in Ottawa to deter protestors recently blocking rail lines across the country and occupying other public spaces in opposition to construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia. While it is entirely separate from the Frontier mining project, it does boast similar opponents. 

“The timing of the decision is not a coincidence,” says Kenney. “This was an economically viable project, as the company confirmed this week, for which the company was advocating earlier this week, so something clearly changed very recently … It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.” 

“This is a sad situation for Canada,” says Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Companies abandoning oil and gas projects has become a growing trend in the country. 

“This is the result of a system where—after nearly a decade of work in the permitting space, unprecedented consultation, support and agreements with indigenous communities, and recommendations to approve from a joint review panel—a company feels it has no choice but to withdraw its application,” says McMillan. 

Teck announced it will be taking a C$1.13bn write-down on the Frontier cancellation.

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