* Union members to vote on agreement by March 19
* If deal ratified, co expects output to resume by March 22
TORONTO, March 15 (Reuters) - Teck Resources TCKb.TO said on Tuesday that it has reached a tentative agreement with the union at its Elkview coal mine that could potentially end a strike at the site in southeastern British Columbia.
Union members are expected to vote on the new agreement by March 19. The tentative agreement is for a term that expires on Oct. 31, 2015, the company said.
If the agreement is ratified by the union members, Teck expects production at the site to resume by March 22. Workers at the site have been on strike since the end of January.
Teck, one of the world’s top exporters of metallurgical coal a key raw material used to make steel. On Monday, Teck trimmed its first-quarter coal sales forecast, citing rail traffic disruptions and adverse weather. [ID:nN14132991]
Teck has a 95 percent interest the Elkview mine with the remaining 5 percent split between Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp (5401.T) and South Korean steelmaker POSCO (005490.KS). The mine has an annual production capacity of 5.6 million tonnes.
The company has a union labour agreement at its Fording River operation that expires on April 30. The Fording River mine is Teck’s largest coal producer, with an annual output capacity of 8 million tonnes.
Shares of Teck were down 1.7 percent at C$48.75 in Toronto on Tuesday, amid a wider pullback in stock markets, as Japan faced a potential catastrophe after a quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating towards Tokyo. (Reporting by Euan Rocha, editing by Dave Zimmerman)