Anglo American PLC says low coal prices have forced it to make plans to temporarily halt production at its Trend mine in northeastern British Columbia.
"This is a pause and not a withdraw from our long-term vision in British Columbia," Anglo American spokesman Federico Velasquez said in an interview Thursday from Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
More than 360 workers will be affected by the company's plans to suspend coal output in late 2014 at the Trend operation near Tumbler Ridge. Last year, the mine produced about 1.5 million tonnes of metallurgical (or coking) coal, a key ingredient in the production of steel.
Amid new supplies from Australia, metallurgical coal prices have tumbled to roughly $120 (U.S.) a tonne after hitting $300 in 2011.
London-based Anglo American recently expanded in B.C. in hopes of starting coal deliveries from its Roman property near Tumbler Ridge, but that site also won't be producing until coal prices rebound.
In April, Birmingham, Ala.-based Walter Energy Inc. suspended coal-mining operations and temporarily laid off almost 700 employees in northeastern British Columbia. While the region had been hoping for an economic revival, projects remain on the drawing board. Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. decided earlier this year to suspend new spending on its Quintette coal property.
Anglo American coal leader Seamus French said the company has reduced operating costs, though not enough to offset the pain from plunging coal prices.