Strike notice given for Highland Valley Copper mine

Threat of job action comes in midst of copper bull market

The Highland Valley copper mine near Kamloops employs more than 1,000 workers. | Steve Smith, Shutterstock

The United Steelworkers Union, Local 7619, has issued a 72-hour strike notice at the Highland Valley Copper mine.

Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B) owns the mine, which is near Kamloops and employs 1,048 workers. The last collective agreement expired in September 2021. Neither Teck nor the union have stated what the impasse might be in negotiations that have led the union to issue a strike notice.

A strike now would be very bad timing for Teck or any other copper producer, given the demand for and high price of copper. Copper miners have been benefitting from a commodities bull market. Teck reported record revenues of $2.1 billion and profits of $1 billion for its third quarter, thanks to high commodity prices in general, including copper.

In the third quarter, Teck reported copper prices were up 44% -- from US$2.96 to US$4.25 per pound – compared to the previous year.

In a press release, Teck said the earliest strike action could begin is January 16.

Negotiations are ongoing and the parties are scheduled to meet with the mediators on Friday, January 14,” the company said in its news release.

Under the now-expired collective agreement, workers at the mine earned between $34.97 and $51.26 per hour, depending on their grade. The agreement also provides for a “copper bonus” based on average copper prices.