Teck Resources Is Said to Plan Coal Spinoff to Focus on Metals

Teck Resources Ltd. is planning to separate its multibillion-dollar steelmaking coal business to focus more on industrial metals.

(Bloomberg) — Teck Resources Ltd. is planning to separate its multibillion-dollar steelmaking coal business to focus more on industrial metals.

The Canadian miner confirmed it’s “evaluating alternatives” for the operation, including “the possible spin-out of an interest in that business to its shareholders.” Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday that Teck was expected to announce plans to separate the division.

“Any transaction would be expected to create value for Teck’s shareholders and support continued benefits for communities and Indigenous Peoples in the areas where Teck operates,” the Vancouver-based firm said in a statement. No decision has been reached to proceed with a transaction and there can be no assurances it will happen, the company said.

Shares rose 7.8% to C$60.62 at 12:06 a.m. in Toronto, the highest intraday price in 12 years.

Teck has been weighing options for its coal division for over a year in a strategic shift toward mining more of the metals such as copper that are crucial to the global energy transition. Metallurgical coal is used in steelmaking, which is among the most polluting industries and faces significant pressure from policymakers.

Teck is one of the world’s largest exporters of metallurgical coal. The company produced more than 24 million metric tons in 2021 from four different operations in western Canada, according to its filings. The business accounted for 55% of the company’s gross profit.

Teck has been exploring options for the business since at least September 2021, when people familiar with the matter said the business could be worth about $8 billion.

A coal spinoff would leave Teck with a suite of copper and zinc mines across the Americas, including the Quebrada Blanca 2 copper project in Chile that has long been admired by some of its biggest rivals. It also owns a stake in the Antamina copper and zinc operation with BHP Group and Glencore Plc.

The world’s biggest miners are increasingly looking to exit fossil fuels. Rio Tinto Group has exited coal altogether, while Anglo American Plc has sold out of thermal coal. BHP divested some of its thermal coal and quit oil and gas altogether. BHP and Anglo still have large met coal operations, the sort of coal Teck is looking to hive off.

Attractive Target

Separating the coal business would likely make Teck an attractive target for large mining companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto that have been hunting for takeovers to expand in industrial metals — providing the family that controls the shares would be willing to sell. 

Teck’s standalone base metals business would make a very attractive M&A target should the controllers ever decide to sell, Citibank analyst Alexander Hacking said in a note Thursday.

“The question going forward is whether additional value can be surfaced by splitting the company, at the expense of the diversification and scale benefits,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Sam Crittenden said in a Thursday note. “We don’t see an obvious buyer for the met coal business so this would largely be a standalone met coal business.”

Bloomberg reported last month that the world’s biggest producers have rediscovered an appetite for mega deals, after years of staying on the sidelines.

(Updates with company comment, shares from second paragraph.)

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