The year 2000 saw another downturn in steel and coal industries with two of the three Canadian steel company members and one coal producer having to drop their CCRA memberships because of financial considerations.
The reduction in members complicated CCRA’s financial situation as the Association had to dip into its limited reserves to maintain its commitments to CANMET.
The consolidation of the metallurgical coal producers at the end of 2002 further complicated the financial situation for CCRA as there was now only one coal and steel member. The Association and CANMET co-operated to keep CCRA as a viable entity and hoped that new members could be attracted when the economy in these industries improved. R. Leeder remained as Chairman of the Board of Directors and T. Todoschuk as Chairman of the Technical Committee.
Membership levels are dependent on the number of Companies eligible for membership as well as the business climate. The number of Metallurgical coal producers was substantially reduced in 2002 with the formation of Elk Valley Coal, which incorporated most of the producers under one organization.
The cokemaking industry was down to three steel producers, and because of economic hardships, only one remained a CCRA member. CANMET has a special category membership in CCRA “Associate Member” which carries full representation and voting privileges without CCRA fees. Other membership categories are Connected, Affiliated, and Inactive.
The CCRA /CANMET relationship has evolved over the years and this was formally put into an “Understanding” or Agreement document created in 1984. This document was modified with the latest update completed in 2013.
Over the years, CCRA and CANMET have carried out many research and development programs to improve the metallurgical coal and cokemaking operations of its members. Many of these have had far reaching effects which have been documented in studies carried out by consultants for the government showing the economic effects of the Joint R&D Program. The benefits to Canadian industry have been substantial, however, it could not have taken place without the joint efforts of CANMET and CCRA. Having a laboratory to conduct carbonization research is beyond the feasibility of any one company so the single shared Canadian lab at Bells Corners has allowed the continuation of R&D in this field in Canada.
The fields of R&D covered by the joint CCRA/CANMET program include energy and fuel conservation, stabilization of supply, GHG reduction, mining, processing, transportation, production of iron, environment, and safety. At any specific time the R&D program places priority on the most pressing problems while not ignoring the long term work necessary for the future.
The CCRA/CANMET R&D program has provided Technical Information to the Canadian metallurgical coal industry that is accepted by their international customers as reliable, accurate and unbiased. This has allowed Canadian metallurgical coal to compete on the International market and retain jobs in Canada. The export of Canadian Coal generates a significant amount of foreign exchange and assists with Canada’s balance of payments. Canada is one of the major exporting country of metallurgical coal and supplies a growing proportion of the coking coal used in Eastern Canada.
As CCRA celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2005, the future looked more promising than it had in the last few previous years, despite the economic ups and downs of the industries represented by the CCRA. The continued CCRA/CANMET partnership benefited Canada as the participating industries gained new information as a result of the R&D. International recognition was achieved for the R&D work performed through the CCRA/CANMET partnership.
At the end of 2006, Dr. Ross Leeder , the longest serving member of the Board retired. Ross had joined the Technical Committee in 1971 when he was a member of the CANMET staff at Bells Corners. He chaired the Technical Committee before moving to the Board of Directors. Ross became Chairman of the BOD in 1989-90 and again in 1999 to 2006. During the 35 years of his association with CCRA, Ross presented numerous papers on the industry.
In 2007, two new coal companies joined as Connected Members, Peace River Coal and Western Canadian Coal Corp and Dr. Barry Ryan joined as an Individual Connected Member representing the British Columbia Government.
In 2008, George Chapman celebrated his 30th anniversary as Treasurer of the Association. Peace River Coal became a full member of the Association and Essar Steel Algoma Inc. joined as a Connected Member. That same year, after a career spanning 35 years, Dr. John Price took retirement from his position as Senior Research Scientist and Manager of Energy for High Temperature Processes at CANMET.
In early 2009, Dr. John Gransden, also Senior Research Scientist in coal carbonization, retired from CANMET. The departure of Drs. Price and Gransden, both dedicated research scientists, represented a significant loss to the CCRA within a very short time period. CCRA thanked them for their valuable contributions to Carbonization in Canada and wished them all the best in their retirement. In the spring of 2009, the Algoma representative Bob Lamour retired after being a long-standing member on the Technical Committee and Board. Bob was replaced by Ms. Eila Kaukolin. Barry Ryan retired from the BC Government Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and, as there was no replacement named, the BC Government abandoned its membership.
During 2008 and 2009, the steel and coal industries were faced with difficult economic climate as the world economic downturn caused a dramatic reduction in steel demand which resulted in a drop in metallurgical coal requirements.
For several years prior to 2008-09, Greenhouse gases (GHG) became a major thrust of the joint R&D program and the research program reflected that reality.
In 2009, the Technical Committee and the Board of Directors spent a significant amount of time and effort gathering information on the development and financing of an Energy Recovery Pilot coke oven for the joint CCRA/CANMET program to examine this alternative/new cokemaking technology. The elevated cost for building such a facility led the CCRA to seek Government participation at both the Federal and Provincial levels and include other parties such as Ontario Hydro Generation as partners.