B.C. snags construction workers from Alberta oil patch

Plus, clean energy companies report mixed results and Teck loses senior managers

Constructive results
B.C.’s construction industry is attracting both skilled workers from Alberta and more young people, according to the 2016 Construction Industry Survey conducted by the BC Construction Association, Progressive Contractors Association and Construction Labour Relations. The survey found that 45 per cent of employers had hired someone who previously worked in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, and the number of young people entering the construction industry after high school is up 15 per cent—good news given that two-thirds of skilled tradesworkers are over the age of 45, which, with a projected increase in construction activity, is forecast to result in a shortfall of 15,000 workers.

The survey, which focuses on trades wages and salaries, also found that 94 per cent of B.C. construction employers plan to hire in 2016, mainly for full-time, year-round jobs; half offered higher wages with 44 per cent of apprentices getting a raise in 2015; and 88 per cent of entry-level workers are happy with their wages—the average annual salary for a construction worker is $56,170.

Coming clean
Call it a tale of two companies, as two B.C.-based clean energy companies finished 2015 with divergent results. Victoria-based Carmanah Technologies Corp., which produces LED and solar power systems, expects 2015 revenues to be up 56 per cent over 2014: approximately US$68 million compared to US$43.7 million. Revenues are up in the final quarter and the year overall due in part to the inclusion of revenues from the Sabik Group of Companies, which Carmanah acquired in July.

While the company’s signals and power segments grew about 14 per cent and 53 per cent respectively, the illumination segments dropped 14 per cent. Carmanah designs, develops and distributes LED solutions for infrastructure that includes signalling systems for marine aids to navigation, airfield ground lighting, offshore wind marking, aviation obstruction and traffic markets plus industrial and commercial solar powered outdoor LED lighting systems, and solar on and off-grid power generation systems.

At Burnaby-based Ballard Power Systems, on the other hand, while fourth-quarter 2015 revenue was up 28 per cent to US$20 million, annual revenue dropped 18 per cent to $56.5 million compared to the same periods in 2014. With its current 2016 order book of $58 million the largest in Ballard’s history, already exceeding last year’s revenue, the company expects revenue to increase in 2016.

Mining data
Teck Resources, B.C.’s biggest mining company by market cap, is losing four senior managers, the company announced on Wednesday. Executive vice-president and chief operating officer Ian Kilgour, zinc senior vice-president Rob Scott, project development senior vice-president Tim Watson and energy senior vice-president Ray Reipas are all retiring within the next six months. The positions are being filled from within the company.

Meanwhile Taseko Mines ended 2015 with a cash balance of $76.0 million, $22.7 million higher than at the end of 2014, despite copper prices that declined an average of 20 per cent from 2014 to 2015. Cash flows from operations increased to $52 million.