Coal mining near Sparwood, B.C., faces uncertain future – by Alex Tardieu (CBC News Calgary – December 13, 2021)

Mining vital to Sparwood economy, but pressure mounting to get off the coal train

Members of Troy Cook’s family have been miners for four generations. His great-grandfather dug through underground rock in Czechoslovakia. The 52-year-old has worked for the Elkview Mine near Sparwood, B.C., for 34 years. Coal is in his DNA.

“I’m super proud to be a coal miner,” he says. “It’s been a great life. A lot of great people at the mine.” After all those years of extracting metallurgical coal — used to make steel — Cook suffers from back pain and hearing problems.

Since 2000, he has been far from the frenzy of open-air quarrying and has instead become fully involved in the United Steelworkers Local 9346, which represents nearly 800 workers. “I like helping people. When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist. But you got to pay the bills”.

Cook is not optimistic about the future, especially because of automation. His employer, Teck Resources, is replacing truck drivers with self-driving trucks.
“They’re already doing it. There are pits at the moment that are fully automated,” he says. “A lot of workers are concerned. The new hires now, [the company] don’t give them any confidence that they’re going to be there forever.”

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