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Biodiversity

Includes discussions of management approach and performance related to anticipating and minimizing impacts on species and ecosystems, as well as our approach and performance regarding remediation. 

GRI Indicators and Topic Boundary
304-103, 304-1, 304-2, 304-3, 304-4, G4-MM2

Why was Biodiversity a Material Topic in 2015?

Protecting and enhancing biodiversity, which is the abundance and variety of living organisms and ecosystems in nature, is integral to global sustainability. Many of the world’s ecosystems are being altered, and loss of biodiversity is a concern. The United Nations has set government and business on a path towards addressing biodiversity on a global scale in their Sustainable Development Goal 15 on sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and halting biodiversity loss.

Mining activities have the potential to impact biodiversity and to alter ecosystems in a significant and highly visible way. Direct impacts can result from any mining activity that involves land disturbance or discharges to waterbodies or the air. Indirect impacts can result from social or environmental changes that are induced by mining operations, particularly when mining opens up an area for other economic activities and increased habitation. In cases where mines are developed in landscapes where other pressures on biodiversity are present, the potential for cumulative impacts must also be considered. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress passed a resolution to call for governments and extractive resource industries to strengthen their avoidance of disturbances to legally protected conservation areas (i.e., parks). Since 2003, the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) has had a world-leading position statement on avoidance of World Heritage sites and respect for protected areas. ICMM continues to place biodiversity high on its agenda for member support and cross-sectoral collaboration.

All our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value, including arid and arctic areas, boreal forests and deserts. Communities near our operations depend on the land, plants and animals around them for their quality of life, livelihoods and leisure activities. Indigenous Peoples rely on the land to maintain traditional ways of life. Stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples expect us to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and to work collaboratively with them to develop integrated approaches to land use. Effectively managing biodiversity is integral to meeting regulatory and permit requirements and to maintaining community support for our activities. 

We recognize that our activities have the potential to impact biodiversity and to alter ecosystems in a significant way in the regions where we operate, which can affect both individual species and the provision of critical ecosystem services that communities rely on. It is therefore important for us to operate in a manner that minimizes and mitigates our impacts on biodiversity. Our goal is to have a net positive impact on biodiversity.

Performance Highlights

Through implementation of our Grizzly Bear Management Plan and partnership with fRI Research, the population of grizzly bears near our Cardinal River Operations has doubled in the last decade.

Stories

  • Safe Haven – Protecting Vulnerable Species in Chile
  • Partnering to Maintain and Protect Outdoor Recreation Near Cardinal River Operations
  • Biodiversity Balance: Measuring our Net Positive Impact
  • Protecting Grizzly Bears near our Cardinal River Operations
  • Reclamation Example: Reclamation Research at Fording River and Greenhills
  • Reclamation Example: Saving Soil at Greenhills
  • Mapping the Migration of Harlequin Ducks
  • Population of Threatened Caribou Herd Triples Thanks to Penning Program
  • Collecting Seeds and Creating Opportunity at Red Dog
  • Relearning to Fly
  •  Photographing Flora and Fauna
  • Soil Reclamation in the Elk Valley
  • Caribou Penning Program Helps Recovery of Threatened Klinse-Za Herd
  • Catch and Relocate Fish Program at Red Dog
  • Conserving Land in the East Kootenays
  • Working Together to Protect the Woodland Caribou
  • Sheep Sharing: Teck Transplants Bighorn Sheep Across North America
  • Restoring the Pinchi Lake Mine Site
  • Bluebird Watching at Highland Valley Copper
  • Sustainability Throughout the Life Cycle at Polaris Mine
  • Rehabilitation of Lands at the Lennard Shelf Pillara Mine
  • From a Mined Pit to a Thriving Trout Habitat
  • Our Targets and Commitments

    Implement biodiversity management plans for each of our operations by 2020.

    Integrate the consideration of biodiversity into the exploration, construction and closure stages of the mining life cycle by 2020.

    Enhance our contributions to biodiversity conservation knowledge through collaboration in research, education and conservation by 2020.

    Achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity in regions where we operate through environmental management, reclamation and conservation by 2030. 

     

    How Does Teck Manage Biodiversity?

    Biodiversity is considered throughout all stages of our business; we put this into practice through comprehensive environmental management systems and tools such as our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards, which call for specific action with respect to biodiversity, land and water.

    In line with our sustainability strategy and biodiversity goals, our approach is to first carefully assess how our activities can impact biodiversity prior to disturbance, to develop a biodiversity baseline, and to create and follow site-specific plans that minimize and rehabilitate our impacts, from exploration through to closure. The actions we use to achieve these steps include progressive reclamation, the use of native vegetation species (with seed from local sources where feasible), and the use of the most recent research and techniques. Where it is not possible to avoid or fully rehabilitate impacts, we design and implement biodiversity offsets to move towards a net positive impact on biodiversity.

    We aim to minimize our footprint, mitigate our impacts, reclaim our lands for the use of future generations, and continually research and monitor our environments. Our work in biodiversity is integrated into company-wide strategies and standards, and informed by engagement with communities. We focus on respecting protected and high biodiversity value areas, achieving a net positive impact, developing biodiversity management plans, and reclamation. 

    Protected areas include those protected by national or regional law or designated by international organizations, including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category Ia, Ib, II, III or IV protected areas (1). High biodiversity value areas have features that provide essential ecosystems relied on by humans and animals, and they have an abundance of rare, vulnerable or endemic species and/or large areas of relatively intact natural habitat.

    As a member of the ICMM, we are committed to not explore or develop in UNESCO World Heritage sites. Currently, none of our operations or projects are located within areas protected by UNESCO or recognized by IUCN; however, the road between Red Dog Operations and the port facility, which is owned by the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, passes through the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, an IUCN category III protected area. 

    We have identified protected areas, areas of high biodiversity value, and species at risk that occur within 25 kilometres of our operations and major development projects. We use this information as an input during the development of biodiversity management plans for each operation. A summary of the results of the proximity analysis, including those prioritized by international conservation initiatives such as Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Key Biodiversity Areas, and World Wide Fund for Nature’s Global 200 Priority Ecoregions can be found on this page. 

    (1)  The IUCN categories are the global standard for classifying protected areas, with category Ia being the most strictly protected area (e.g., a nature reserve).

    Table 63: Teck’s Proximity to Global Conservation Priority Species

    Teck Site/Type of Global Conservation Priority

    Number of Sites that Overlap with Mining Operations

    Within 25 Kilometres of Mining Operations

    Andacollo

    4

    1

    • Biodiversity Hotspot

    1

     

    • G200-Marine

    1

     

    • G200-Terrestrial

    1

     

    • IUCN Category lll

     

    1

    • Endemic Bird Area

    1

     

    Cardinal River

     

    4

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    2

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    1

    • World Heritage Site

     

    1

    Coal Mountain

     

    3

    • IUCN Category la

     

    1

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    2

    Elkview

     

    3

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    1

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    2

    Fording River

     

    7

    • IUCN Category la

     

    1

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    5

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    1

    Galore Creek

    1

    1

    • G200-Fresh Water

    1

     

    • G200-Terrestrial

     

    1

    Green Hills

     

    4

    • IUCN Category la

     

    1

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    3

    Highland Valley Copper

    1

    14

    • G200-Freshwater

    1

     

    • IUCN Category la

     

    2

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    9

    • IUCN Category lll

     

    2

    • IUCN Category Vl

     

    1

    Line Creek

     

    2

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    2

    Quebrada Blanca

    2

    2

    • Biodiversity Hotspot

    1

     

    • G200-Fresh Water

     

    1

    • G200-Terrestrial

    1

    1

    Quintette

     

    3

    • G200-Fresh Water

     

    1

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    2

    Red Dog

    3

    2

    • G200- Marine

    1

     

    • G200-Terrestrial

    1

     

    • IUCN Category lb

     

    1

    • IUCN Category lll

    1

     

    • IUCN Category V

     

    1

    Relincho

    4

     

    • Biodiversity Hotspot

    1

     

    • G200-Marine

    1

     

    • G200-Terrestrial

    1

     

    • Endemic Bird Area

    1

     

    Trail

     

    4

    • IUCN Category ll

     

    3

    • IUCN Category lll

     

    1

    As a responsible resource company, we create significant opportunities to achieve positive impacts on biodiversity, and on people’s ability to benefit from and enjoy nature. Our vision for biodiversity management is to achieve a net positive impact (NPI) on biodiversity in areas affected by our activities. 

    At our sites, we implement the mitigation hierarchy, a key framework that we use to achieve our vision of NPI on biodiversity. To track and demonstrate our net positive impacts, we develop a “ledger” to account for negative and positive impacts on biodiversity. We reduce our impacts on biodiversity through avoidance, minimization and rehabilitation. We then aim to achieve a net positive impact through the use of offsets. This approach is guided by the following principles:

    • Avoid impacts where possible: Whenever possible, we avoid biodiversity impacts. In some cases, biodiversity features are so valued and/or vulnerable that they may require significant changes in our plans in order to protect critical areas.
    • Minimize impacts that are unavoidable: At all times, we minimize impacts that are unavoidable, adopting best practices in mine operations in order to reduce the severity of our impacts.
    • Rehabilitate affected areas: On a progressive basis, we rehabilitate areas in order to re-create biodiversity values. Rehabilitating the land means returning it to a stable ecological state that does not contribute substantially to environmental deterioration. Reclamation practices can replace much or most of the diversity of the natural habitats that existed prior to mining.
    • Offset any residual impacts: Even with the best reclamation practices, there are limits to what can be achieved, and it may not be possible to replace all of the important biodiversity features that our mines impact. For these features, we design and implement biodiversity offsets to move towards a net positive impact on biodiversity.

    Implementing our biodiversity mitigation hierarchy also requires the consideration of cumulative effects to ecosystems caused by other parties’ past, present and reasonably foreseeable future activities. We plan and implement protective or restorative actions based on our potential contributions to cumulative effects, and we adjust our actions based on the results of ongoing monitoring and scientific studies.

    Figure 28: Implementing our Biodiversity Mitigation Hierarchy to Achieve a Net Positive Impact

    In 2015, we accomplished our goal to develop biodiversity management plans at all of our current operations that set out how NPI would be achieved. Biodiversity management plans include: 

    • A list of ecosystems and biodiversity elements at the site
    • A summary of the risks and impacts that the site and its activities pose to these elements
    • A plan, developed using the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy, that demonstrates how the site will manage its impacts to achieve a net positive impact for each element
    • A list of activities and resources required to implement the plan

    In addition to meeting the commitments in our sustainability strategy, our biodiversity management plans also serve to meet aspects of our internal HSEC Management Standards and the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Biodiversity Conservation Management Protocol.

    To create the biodiversity management plans, operations and advanced projects collect biodiversity information, conduct a preliminary identification of risks and existing mitigation actions, conduct gap analyses and create work plans. We identify risks using a register that scores risks based on biodiversity, social/community, regulatory compliance and reputational factors. Some of the most significant risks identified across our company during biodiversity management planning include species at risk or of special concern, viability of subsistence activities, and our contribution to cumulative impacts on ecosystems such as old-growth forests. 

    Our biodiversity management plans are designed to mitigate these risks. We address the protection of species at risk and those species that may be more common, especially those that are highly valued due to other factors, such as subsistence use by Indigenous Peoples. For examples of some of our work in protecting species at risk, such as grizzly bears and caribou, visit the Stories page. 

    Biodiversity Management Plans
    At Teck, a biodiversity management plan and a typical environmental assessment follow a similar process, in which the Ecosystems and Biodiversity Elements relevant to a project or operation are identified, the risks to and impacts on these elements are assessed, and then a mitigation plan developed that will reduce the project’s net impacts to a targeted level.  

    Despite the similarities, a biodiversity management plan and an environmental assessment potentially differ in at least two important ways. The first difference is the scope of the assessment or, in other words, the components that are included in the assessment. In many cases, the scope of a Teck biodiversity management plan will be more expansive than the scope of an environmental assessment for the same site.  

    The second difference is the degree of mitigation required for Ecosystems and Biodiversity Elements that are impacted by a mining project. As described above, the scope and mitigation requirements contained in Teck’s Net Positive Impact Strategy represent voluntary and regulatory international best practices, including the goal of demonstrating a net gain for Ecosystems and Biodiversity Elements. This contrasts with the goal of most environmental assessments, which is to minimize the residual impacts on biodiversity to an acceptable level. However, over time, the scope of environmental assessments is expanding, and the degree of expected mitigation is increasing; so, eventually, and in more and more jurisdictions, the mitigations recommended in environmental assessments and Teck’s biodiversity management plans can be expected to converge.

    One final difference is that the risk assessment conducted as part of developing a biodiversity management plan goes beyond considering the risks that the site poses to biodiversity, as would be the case for an environmental assessment. The Teck biodiversity management plan conducts an expanded risk assessment that also considers the regulatory, reputational, community and partnership risks that its actual or perceived impacts on biodiversity pose to the site.

    Figure 29: Teck’s Approach to Developing Biodiversity Management Plans
     

     

    Responsibly closing our sites and managing our legacy properties plays an important role in protecting biodiversity on the lands where mining once took place. Through exemplary reclamation practices, we can replace much or most of the structural and compositional diversity of the natural habitats that existed before we developed our mines. As such, our reclamation activities are making a contribution towards achieving a net positive impact on biodiversity.

    While we are still operating at a site, we progressively reclaim portions of the mine site that are no longer required for current or possible future mining purposes. We implement best practices in reclamation and have created an internal community of practice to share knowledge across our operations. We apply the principle of “equivalent land capability” to reclaim land to the equivalent capability that will support species that live in the area, according to reclamation and land use objectives. We have also implemented research programs to help ensure that we adopt best practices. Our reclamation activities focus on conserving biodiversity and include the development of diverse wildlife habitats, annual wildlife surveys, documentation of wildlife using trail cameras, aerial seeding in mined-out pits, and the development of tracking databases to monitor rare and unusual wildlife sightings. 

    To plan for these future reclamation obligations, we ensure that we allocate sufficient resources for reclamation in our mine budgets. For more information about our approach on the mine closure page.

    During our reclamation planning, we consult local communities and Indigenous Peoples on post-mining land use objectives that can include wildlife and plant habitat as well as recreational and cultural use. In 2016, we updated post-mining land use objectives at our Highland Valley Copper Operations and our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley region of British Columbia. These updated objectives reflect a greater focus on restoring the lands to the natural ecosystem types that existed pre-mining, to the extent feasible. In both locations, we reviewed with communities of interest the land ecosystem types such as dry forests, rock cliffs and wetlands, and other previously identified post-mining land uses. Their feedback was incorporated and we updated some land uses to reflect their perspectives. 

    Through engagement with our communities of interest (COIs), we integrate interests and partner with NGOs and government to inform our approach to biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity and land use/access is particularly important to Indigenous Peoples near our operations. For example, at Red Dog Operations, access to land/water during traditional hunting season is a priority that we support through our subsistence committee with NANA. 

     

    What was Our Performance in Biodiversity in 2016?

    We are working to improve our reporting on the biodiversity risks and opportunities at each of our operations and to improve our approach to managing the issues. 

    Respecting Protected and High Biodiversity Value Areas, Achieving a Net Positive Impact (NPI) and Engaging with Communities

    Table 56: Key Activities and Accomplishments in Biodiversity in 2016

    Operation

    Steps to Implement Biodiversity Mitigation Hierarchy

    Performance Highlight

    Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

     

    Developed and tested new quantitative assessment procedure for vegetation/habitat quality

    An update to our biodiversity program was presented to and discussed with the Biodiversity Management Technical Advisory Group (TAG) in October 2016 in Cranbrook, B.C. Representatives from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Ministry of Environment and Ktunaxa National Council were in attendance. All feedback was supportive of the work completed to date and for the planned future work. In particular, there was support for the new vegetation quality assessment procedure.

    Developed species-specific action plans for Parry’s townsendia, whitebark pine, compact grimmia, Montana wildrye, American badger, and Gillette’s checkerspot

    These species-level action plans will provide quantifiable mitigation measures and will support environmental assessment commitments, permit conditions, and enable achievement of NPI at the species level.

    Developed revised end land use objectives

    Demonstrated to regulators and stakeholders how these objectives relate to, and support the human-centric land use objectives formerly stipulated.

    Highland Valley Copper

    Developed revised end land use objectives through engagement with local Indigenous Peoples

    End land use planning involved a community engagement component and a technical component consisting of a series of ecosystem modelling and mapping tasks that were informed by community and technical meetings.

    Reclamation
    For an overview of the area reclaimed and disturbed to date, view the Mine Closure page.

     

     

    Sustainability Spotlight

    In 2016, as part of our 2020 goal to implement biodiversity management plans for each of our operations, we refined end land use objectives at our Highland Valley Copper Operations and steelmaking coal operations based on feedback from stakeholders and improved alignment with corporate biodiversity objectives.

    View our full goals progress report on Our Sustainability Strategy page

    Outlook for Biodiversity

    In 2017, we will continue to work towards reaching our biodiversity goals set for 2020, including advancing integration of biodiversity into the exploration, construction and closure stages of the mining life cycle. We will also continue to implement, improve and enhance the biodiversity management plans at all operations. For example, at our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley, we will install wildlife cameras to collect and analyze data on wildlife use and movement patterns. At our Highland Valley Copper Operations, we will conduct new reclamation trials to test methods for rehabilitating lands in line with the end land use objectives determined in 2016, shifting from grasslands to forests, for example. 

     

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    Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with business units focused on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.