Teck Resources Ltd. plans to spend a total of $685 million on improvements at two of its major metals operations in British Columbia, the Vancouver-based mining company announced Thursday.
Teck said it will invest $210-million to increase capacity of an electronic waste recycling operation in Trail, B.C., where Teck has a major zinc smelter and hydroelectric plant.
It will also spend $475-million to modernize and extend the life of a 40-year-old mill at the Highland Valley copper mine, about 75 kilometres southwest of Kamloops, B.C.
"These projects will improve the long-term viability of two of our key operations," said Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Canada's largest publicly traded base metals and coal producer.
Specifically, Teck is building a new furnace at the Trail smelter that will integrate into the lead smelting process. Construction on the project will begin next year with completion scheduled for 2014.
"Last year we recycled just over 13,000 tonnes of e-waste at our Trail Operations, and this project will significantly increase our capacity to recycle end-of-life electronic components, helping to keep them out of landfills and allowing for the recovery and reuse of valuable metals," Mr. Lindsay added.
Meanwhile, the 40-year old mill at Highland Valley Copper will be modernized and its life extended to match the expected mine life.
That project is also expected to raise mill processing capacity by about 10 per cent and copper recoveries by two per cent. Construction will begin immediately and the project should be finished by the end of 2013.
"We have significantly extended the life of the Highland Valley Copper mine in recent years, and the modernization of the mill makes sense, especially given the expected increases in throughput and copper recoveries," said Mr. Lindsay.
Teck is a major resources company focused on copper, steelmaking coal, zinc. the company also has a minority stake in a major northern Alberta oilsands project.
In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Teck B shares fell $1.92 to $32.11, a drop of more than 5.6 per cent in a market that was hit hard by the impact of falling commodity prices.
Commodities markets have been skittish since global mining giant Rio Tinto plc said some of its customers are asking the company to delay shipments of iron ore and other metals — the latest sign the global economic slowdown is squeezing the resources sector.
"It is noticeable that markets are somewhat weaker," Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese said in an interview with the Financial Times of London published Wednesday.
"In a few cases, customers are asking to reschedule deliveries. This is consistent with customers being cautious about the current state of business."
Earlier this week, copper prices hit a nearly 10 month low as demand weakened for the widely used industrial metal. Oil prices are also declining as are prices of other commodities used in industry, construction and other sectors around the world.