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Emergency Preparedness

Preventing and preparing for emergencies, particularly in the context of tailings management.

Why was Emergency Preparedness a Material Topic in 2016?

Over the past few years, a number of high-profile incidents have significantly impacted companies. These incidents can result from external factors such as natural disasters or pandemics. They can also result from business activities such as spills or dam failures. While governments and companies must work with communities to mitigate their risks whenever possible, equally important is their ability to respond and recover from these extreme events when they arise. 

Mining can pose significant health, safety and environmental risks to employees and communities. Certain risks, such as the health and safety of our workforce and tailings management, have the potential to become emergencies if not managed properly. The recent tailings facility incidents at other companies in Canada and Brazil reinforced the need for comprehensive emergency planning. 

The importance of emergency preparedness is reflected in the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) 10 Principles. ICMM Principle 4 is to “implement risk management strategies based on valid data and sound science” and states that member companies must develop, maintain and test effective emergency response procedures in collaboration with potentially affected parties. Emergency planning, like most business activities, is a process of continuous improvement. 

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TSM Crisis Management Standard

Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our people, the environment and neighbouring communities. We take our responsibility seriously to ensure that measures are taken to mitigate risks. We recognize that maintaining strong relationships with our communities of interest and ensuring business continuity depend on our ability to effectively manage risks and to be prepared to respond in a timely and appropriate manner, should an emergency occur. Recent tailings incidents at other companies have underscored for Teck the importance of continued focus on emergency planning and management systems.

Performance Highlights

Effective deployment of our emergency preparedness plan in response to the 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile, near our Carmen de Andacollo (CdA) Operations


Helping Employees and Their Families Prepare for Emergencies

More than a decade ago, Teck developed an Earthquake Preparedness Guide for Home and Office and continues to update this guide year after year. This guide, provided in English and Spanish to employees, helps them think through how to prepare and respond to an earthquake if one occurs — whether they are at home, the office or somewhere in between. 

The guide covers what to expect during an earthquake, the “dos and don’ts” during and after an earthquake, and how to prepare a home plan for an earthquake.  

In addition to the guide, Teck’s Risk Group provides regular training sessions on earthquake preparedness and tsunami warnings. 

Our Targets and Commitments

We are committed to meet or exceed the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainability Mining (TSM) protocol requirements for crisis management and emergency preparedness globally. TSM is a Canadian standard; therefore, only our Canadian operations are audited through a third party against these requirements.


How Does Teck Manage Emergency Preparedness?

We identify a comprehensive range of potential emergencies and ensure we are prepared to respond to, and recover from, emergency situations as quickly and as effectively as possible. The vast majority of these potential situations are prevented through robust risk management measures including emergency response planning. Annual reviews of the emergency preparedness of our operations ensure the necessary resources are available to effectively respond if such a situation occurs. Emergency preparedness and planning is conducted at a corporate and site level as well as within the communities near our operations, as outlined in the figure below. 

Figure 16: Emergency Preparedness at Corporate, Sites and Communities 


Our framework within Teck’s Global Risk Management Program guides the process of:

  • Identifying hazards
  • Assessing the risks associated with those hazards
  • Applying relevant controls to minimize the potential of risks 
  • Ensuring appropriate plans and resources are put in place to respond to emergencies that may occur 

Standards for emergency preparedness were originally established in 1984 through our Corporate Loss Prevention Guidelines, which are updated on a regular basis as required. With the support and guidance of our Risk Group, each operation develops site-specific emergency preparedness and response plans based upon those requirements. As such, emergency response plans and preparations are appropriate for site-specific conditions and are based on a range of credible, although extremely unlikely, incident scenarios. 

Each operation develops, implements and maintains various components of an emergency response plan, including: 




Clearly defined roles/responsibilities

  • Identifying, equipping and training first responders

Emergency response guidelines and procedures

  • Security
  • Medical
  • Fire and explosion
  • Special considerations (earthquake, avalanche, tailings dam breach)

Communication systems and procedures


  • Establishing internal and external communication mechanisms
  • Call-out procedures
  • Musters and/or evacuations
  • Media (reporters, social, etc.) management

Response and control


  • Organizational structure and responsibilities
  • Reviews and inspections (internal/external)
  • Capital replacement plans
  • Continuous improvement

Internal emergency response


  • Plans for addressing emergencies within Teck’s facilities, including scope, personnel involved, training, facilities and equipment and maintenance

External emergency response

  • Plans for addressing emergencies outside of Teck’s facilities, including mutual aid agreements, joint responsibilities and other agreements
  • Contractor service agreements
  • Medical treatments, including availability, means of transport and transport time

Testing and training for emergency situations


  • Scheduling and conducting exercises and simulations
  • Ongoing tabletop reviews
  • Collaborative effort by operations, the Risk Group, Corporate Crisis Management Team and occasionally with multi-jurisdictional participation

Incident investigation procedures

  • Maintaining documentation
  • Incident Cause Analysis Method (ICAM) or other form of investigation
  • Sharing of lessons learned

Other Teck locations, such as exploration sites and major projects, have a similar emergency preparedness process that is tailored to the unique needs of the situation. For example, because exploration teams are largely mobile and may be in place for only a short time, they need to be prepared to deal with unplanned natural disasters, but may not need to address risk to infrastructure.

What Was Our Performance in Emergency Preparedness in 2015?

While emergency preparedness is an ongoing effort, we had several notable activities in 2015 as the sites and Corporate Risk Group identified changes to the risk landscape. 

Table 20: 2015 Emergency Preparedness Performance Highlights


Examples of Site-Specific Plans

2015 Highlights

Natural Disasters

  • Earthquake preparedness at Carmen de Andacollo Operations (CdA)
  • Avalanche preparedness at Line Creek Operations (LCO)
  • An 8.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in Chile, which triggered effective earthquake response at CdA
  • Excellent coordination of emergency teams at LCO in response to a land-slide, unrelated to mining activity, resulted in no injuries and a return to full operation within three weeks

Transportation-Related Emergencies

  • Train derailments and/or product spills at or near Trail Operations
  • Concentrate truck spill
  • Minor spills from third-party transportation companies were responded to by Trail Emergency Response Teams
  • Teck responded to two separate incidents involving contractor transport trucks near the port at Red Dog Operations


  • Simulation of Waneta Dam failure
  • At Trail, we participated in a joint exercise with BC Hydro, FortisBC, Trail Operations, and Waneta Dam personnel to plan for hydro dam failure scenarios


Tailings Management and Emergency Preparedness

Many of our operations have tailings storage facilities. We have a comprehensive approach to managing those facilities to ensure they are safe and properly maintained. At the same time, we also ensure we undertake extensive contingency planning and Emergency Preparedness Activities to ensure we are prepared for any eventuality. These measures include: 

  • Warning systems
  • Defined alert levels for instrumentation
  • Stockpiled materials for emergency berms/buttresses
  • Mutual aid agreements with local emergency responders, where relevant
  • Hazard tracking (e.g., storm warnings)
  • Training for operators and mine management
  • Contingency plans for upset conditions
  • Business continuity and business recovery plans
  • Communities of interest consultation and communications plan
  • Regular testing of emergency response plans

Outlook for Emergency Preparedness

Moving forward, we will continue to identify a comprehensive range of potential emergencies and ensure we are prepared to respond to, and recover from, emergency situations as quickly and as effectively as possible. In 2016, all operations and sites will continue with emergency training as outlined by corporate and area-specific requirements, and the corporate risk group will continue to provide company-wide support with various tabletop exercises and field simulation training events. For example, we will continue to engage communities of interest and employees in emergency response planning specific to tailings storage facilities. 

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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.