Teck Resources. Photo by The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Teck Resources Ltd. says it remains committed to rebalancing its portfolio toward less carbon-intensive resources even though soaring prices for steelmaking coal helped push the miner to a record fourth-quarter profit.

Surging global commodity prices lifted Teck to a fourth-quarter profit attributable to shareholders of nearly $1.49 billion compared with a loss of $464 million a year earlier, the company reported Thursday.

The Vancouver-based miner said the profit amounted to $2.74 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of 87 cents per diluted share in the last three months of 2020.

Revenue for the quarter totalled $4.41 billion, up from $2.56 billion a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Teck said it earned a record $2.54 per diluted share in the fourth quarter, compared with an adjusted profit of 46 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $2.38 per share and $4.44 billion in revenue, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Record realized steelmaking coal prices of US$351 per tonne drove a $1.4 billion gross profit increase in Teck’s steelmaking coal business unit, Teck said.

But chief executive Don Lindsay told analysts on a conference call that the company, which has set a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, intends to reduce its exposure to coal moving forward.

He said that will begin this year, as construction of Teck’s massive new QB2 copper mine in Chile is more than three-quarters complete and production is expected to begin in the second half of 2022. The mine is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes of copper equivalent per year for the first five years of its life.

“Both coal and oilsands will be a lower percentage of the portfolio, whether you measure it in terms of revenue or EBITDA,” Lindsay said.

“We love the (coal) business. As you can see, it’s a tremendous cash generation business . . . But the coal part of it will reduce in proportion naturally as copper grows.”

Teck, which holds a 21.3 per cent interest in the Fort Hills oilsands mine in northern Alberta (with Total E&P Canada Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. holding the remaining interest) has indicated it may be interested in selling its stake in that project. Lindsay said the company is better poised to make a decision on that front now that Fort HIlls has resumed two-train operations.

Teck took a $474-million writedown on the oilsands mine in the spring of 2020 after one of Fort Hills’ two production trains was shut down due to low oil prices as global fuel demand plummeted due to pandemic lockdowns.

If Teck were to sell its Fort Hills stake, that would reduce the carbon intensity of its portfolio, Lindsay said, though he added it still may not be enough to “get down to a level that shareholders find acceptable” without reducing exposure to coal as well.

“With all the ESG pressures and movements, there’s a lot of people that shy away from anything called coal even though it’s the good coal, steelmaking coal that the world absolutely needs for a low-carbon future,” Lindsay said. “The board has been studying this intensely for a couple of years and even more intensely recently. But whether any specific action is taken in the next few months, I don’t know.”

On Wednesday, Teck raised its annual base dividend to 50 cents per share from 20 cents and announced a plan to buy back up to $100 million worth of its shares. It also declared a dividend of 62.5 cents per share, made up of the quarterly base dividend of 12.5 cents plus a supplemental dividend of 50 cents per share for the quarter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TECK.B)

 

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

News from © The Canadian Press, 2022. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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