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Mine Closure

Planned or actual closure and related impacts on workers, local communities and the environment.

GRI Indicators
203-1, G4-MM1, G4-MM10

Why was Mine Closure a Material Topic in 2016?

There is an increasing global expectation that companies fully understand and manage the long-term economic, social and environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of their activities and products. Planning for the completion of activities and the effective implementation of those plans in consultation and collaboration with COIs is a critical part of life cycle management.

As a result of the downturn in commodity prices, many companies in the industry announced the sale or temporary closure of mines, or the acceleration of permanent closure of mines. Closure of an operation leads to a decline in employment, local procurement, community investment and infrastructure development. If managed improperly, closed mine sites can also pose safety and environmental risks due to the equipment, tailings and other mine waste facilities, and any infrastructure facilities left following the activities of mining. Companies must plan effectively to mitigate these risks, and implement those plans diligently to support local communities and protect ecosystems. 

Being in business for over 100 years, we have a large diverse portfolio of legacy properties and a number of existing operations that are progressing towards closure. Responsibly closing our sites and managing our legacy properties is an essential element of our sustainability performance. We focus on responsibly ending mining operations by developing viable, long-term and appropriately diverse post-closure land uses and supporting communities, including former employees, in their “post-mine” transition. 

In 2016 we advanced closure planning for our Coal Mountain Operations, which will reach the end of its mine life in the fourth quarter of 2017, and continued to implement our closure plan for our Duck Pond Operations, which ceased operating in 2015.

Performance Highlights

97

hectares of land were reclaimed

421

hectares were disturbed by our activities in 2016

Our Targets and Commitments

We are committed to responsibly ending mining operations by developing and implementing closure plans with our stakeholders.

How Does Teck Manage Mine Closure?

There are three phases of mine closure that span the life cycle of an operation until a mine is permanently closed: closure planning, closure, and post-closure management.

Given the long life of many of our mines, and to ensure that closure plans are relevant at the time that an operation ultimately closes, closure planning is a phased activity conducted in collaboration with our communities of interest. Closure plans are developed with corporate input following industry best practice guidance.

Mine closure is supported by corporate staff and managed at a site level by a cross-functional group that typically includes experts in mine planning, community engagement including engagement with Indigenous Peoples, water and biodiversity. Closure planning begins early in a mine’s life, typically as part of permitting processes with the development of a conceptual closure plan relevant to the particular operation. This plan is periodically updated over the life of the operation, as research into reclamation and other closure issues is conducted. Closure planning intensifies as a mine begins to near the end of its life, when all conditions of the operation and its effect on the environment, local economies and government are known. 

Each closure plan is developed to address unique characteristics of the site and regulatory requirements of the particular jurisdiction. At the same time, we apply a “best practices” approach if the regulatory requirements are less stringent than those best practices. We engage with COIs in the planning process to ensure the concerns and priorities of local communities and Indigenous Peoples are taken into consideration. Through closure and into post-closure management, our teams focus on achieving and maintaining the commitments outlined in the closure plan.

Closure plans include consideration of:

  • Dismantling and decommissioning the site
  • Water management, including long-term quality
  • Stability of landforms and watercourses
  • Socio-economic impacts on local communities
  • Impacts on employees and suppliers
  • Input from communities
  • Biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Post-closure management requirements
  • Cost-effective execution

 

Community Engagement

Before, during and after closure, community engagement activities focus on reducing the impact of employee reductions, fewer procurement opportunities, decline in community investment, and revenues from tax and royalties. We engage with employees, suppliers, Indigenous Peoples and government to effectively mitigate these social risks.

 

Table 59: Community Engagement through the Stages of Mine Closure

Before Mining

During Mining

After Mining

Early engagement with COIs

•Develop relationships

•Inform and involve before any activity

•Engage in closure planning for exploration activities

•Research and studies

•Site design and planning

•Permitting and approvals

•Biodiversity baseline development

 

Closure planning (conceptual)

•Identify closure objectives

•Outline progressive and post-closure reclamation

•Forecast mine life and closure date

•Assess social impacts and mitigation strategies

•Estimate cost of closure and reclamation

Engagement with COIs

•Build on relationships

•Engage in progressively detailed closure planning

•Prepare employees and communities of interest for closure

 

Construction

•Prepare land and erect infrastructure

•Store soil and waste rock for reuse in reclamation, operation and production

 

Progressive reclamation

•Grow plants and trees for transplant

•Rehabilitate disturbed areas no longer required

 

Closure planning (detailed)

•In collaboration with COIs, expand upon closure and end land use plan

•Incorporate new issues, research and practices

•Begin detailed planning as closure nears

Engagement with COIs

•Support employees and communities of interest through transition

 

Closure

•Shut down operations and decommission site 

•Remove and correctly dispose of any hazardous materials

•Implement closure, which includes the following components:

- Wildlife conservation

- Indigenous People’s subsistence activities (e.g., hunting and gathering)

- Recreation

- Agriculture

- Economic development projects

 

Reclamation

•As is indicated by post-use requirements, slope and contour waste rock piles

•Cap or cover and revegetate with plants and trees

•Close or reclaim water features

 

Post-Closure

•Manage water quality

•Conduct ongoing monitoring

  • Identify further reclamation initiatives

•Ongoing care and maintenance

•Evaluate success of end land use objectives

  • Maintain public access management and safety

 

Developing Guidance for Community Engagement during Closure Planning through the SMART Framework

Within the Social Management and Responsibility at Teck (SMART) Framework, our Social Closure Planning Tool provides sites with a process to identify issues, undertake engagement planning, and develop closure plans that address community concerns and priorities.

 

Table 60: Summary of Closure Planning Tool

Step

Description

Gather relevant information internally

  • Establish a team who will be responsible for planning each component (e.g., environment, engineering/operations, legal, community engagement) and determine how social closure considerations will be integrated throughout the plan
  • Compile documents related to closure and social management to ensure that the team has the right data

Establish a post-mining vision, goals and objectives jointly with COIs

  • Work with communities of interest to understand community priorities post-closure
  • Collaborate to define vision, goals and objectives

Identify closure-related risks, opportunities, commitments and impacts

  • Identify the main drivers of social closure-related activities:
    • Risks (primary social and socio-economic risks)
    • Opportunities (how closure can generate value for us and for our communities of interest)
    • Commitments (how we have committed to, and are obligated to, our communities of interest by law, through agreements and through other agreements we have made)

Develop engagement plan

  • Develop Social Closure Engagement Plan

Assess viability of community/ communities without Teck

  • Assess how the community changed from pre-mining-related activity to the current state, and the level of dependency; if dependency risks exist, identify partners, capacity training, and resources to help mitigate negative effects

Incorporate into closure plan

  • Use the post-mining vision and goals to establish closure-related objectives with indicators of success and assign resources for implementation

 

After operations end permanently, a site enters the closure phase and teams that manage reclamation are activated and community engagement continues. 

Closure activities often include:

  • Removing and appropriately disposing of any hazardous materials
  • Removal of unneeded infrastructure that doesn’t have a designated post-mining use
  • Implementing long-term water management
  • Ensuring/establishing stable landforms and watercourses
  • If required to enhance post-mining biodiversity or other land use considerations, resloping and contouring waste rock piles as necessary
  • As required, capping or covering, and vegetating waste rock piles and tailings facilities
  • Closing or reclaiming water features, possibly including some portions of tailings facilities
  • Managing any contaminated soil
  • Creating restrictions to access to areas of potential danger (e.g., sealing underground openings)

 

Reclamation

Our objectives for reclamation are to conserve and enhance biodiversity and to facilitate new, productive uses of areas disturbed by mining. At closure, reclamation activities return the remaining disturbed land to a stable state for post-mining land uses (e.g., wetlands, various wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation and alternative industrial use).

Through reclamation, we can replace much of the structural and compositional diversity of the natural habitats that existed before we developed our mines. We implement leading reclamation practices and have created an internal community of practice to share this knowledge across our operations. We have won awards for our reclamation practices at numerous operations, including all of our steelmaking coal operations, Highland Valley Copper and legacy properties, including Pinchi Lake, Sä Dena Hes, Sullivan and McCracken.

For more information about reclamation and our approach to biodiversity, please view our Biodiversity section.

 

Reclamation Security

Many jurisdictions require mining companies to post financial security for all or part of the remaining costs associated with the mine reclamation and environmental protection. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that governments will not have to unreasonably contribute to the costs of reclamation and environmental protection of a mine site if a company is unable to meet its obligation to fully close and reclaim the site.  

At Teck, we take our responsibility to fully close and remediate sites very seriously. We meet all government requirements for security, and currently have approximately $1.6 billion in security in place for our active and closed sites. Importantly, we are committed to ensuring that this financial security never needs to be accessed, as we responsibly close and reclaim our mine sites and meet all of our environmental obligations, at no cost to government or taxpayers. Teck has a long and proven track record in this regard, with award-winning mine reclamation at a number of sites.

In 2016, the British Columbia Auditor General raised concerns over the level of financial security in place for the reclamation of mines across B.C. Teck has significant financial security with the B.C. government for our active and closed sites in the province — over half a billion dollars at the end of 2016. We will continue to focus on putting the necessary resources in place to meet our obligations to responsibly close and reclaim sites, in addition to fully meeting all requirements for financial security as directed by government. We will also continue to engage with the provincial government as they review and evolve their reclamation security policies.

Once our operating sites are closed, they are monitored and managed as required on a long-term basis by our Legacy Properties team, who have expertise in contaminated sites assessment and remediation, tailings and mine waste storage facility management, reclamation, project management and water treatment. Their role is to ensure that our closure actions remain successful in achieving key objectives, including landform stability, habitat rehabilitation, public safety, water quality protection, monitoring of structures such as dams and rock piles, water treatment, and access controls over portions of the site. We track and maintain more than 100 legacy properties, actively monitor 29 of these properties, and carry out ongoing management actions on 23 sites, including the Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., Louvicourt in Quebec, and Sä Dena Hes in the Yukon.

Over our 100-year history of mining, some of our historical properties were closed during eras when the long-term risks associated with mining and industrial sites were not well understood. Consequently, the closure methods used at these sites did not always conform to currently accepted practices.

Therefore, we have developed a centralized legacy properties database for closed properties that helps us to better understand, prioritize and manage these sites. We assign priorities for assessment and management and, in many cases, we implement additional and current closure practices at these properties.

What was Our Performance in Mine Closure in 2016?

We report on the annual area of land disturbed, reclaimed and yet to be reclaimed, total area of land reclaimed and our total footprint in 2016. We also provide a summary of provisions and closure plans.

 

Closure Planning in 2016

As part of the closure process for Duck Pond Operations, detailed site assessments were completed in several areas impacted by the operation. These assessments are being used to guide final remediation activities.

In 2016, Coal Mountain Operations, which is scheduled for closure at the end of 2017, developed a detailed closure plan after extensive consultation with stakeholders. For full-time staff at this operation, we have set a target to offer them positions at one of our other steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley upon the end of active operations at Coal Mountain. We have also committed to establishing a task group following closure to facilitate ongoing engagement between Teck and communities. The plan has been submitted for review by the provincial government. The process to develop a detailed closure plan for Cardinal River Operations began in 2017, which is scheduled to reach the end of its current mine life in 2019.

Three of our steelmaking coal operations — Fording River, Line Creek and Greenhills —completed periodic updates to their closure plans. Those plans, along with details of reclamation activities planned for the next five years, were submitted for review by the provincial government.

An updated closure plan for Highland Valley Copper Operations was completed in late 2016 and has been circulated for stakeholder review and comment before being submitted to the B.C. government in 2017.

 

Updates to Reclamation Security

In 2016, Teck adjusted the financial security provided for a number of sites to reflect changes in regulatory requirements and conditions. For example, Red Dog Operations saw the most significant change to financial security in 2016 as a result of the renewed approval of the Waste Management Plan and the associated Reclamation and Closure Plan. The approval resulted in an increase to Red Dog’s financial assurance in the amount of US$558 million, up from US$423 million.

 

Closure in 2016

At the end of 2016, Teck had a total footprint of 29,577 hectares (ha), of which 22,872 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 6,705 ha have been reclaimed. As this data relates to active operations, the area of land yet to be reclaimed will generally increase over time until the mining areas are closed and become available for reclamation.

Table 17: Area Reclaimed and Disturbed (1),(2),(3)

 

2016

2015

2014

2013

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

97

250

77

434

Area disturbed during the current year (ha)

421

508

908

310

Area of land yet to be reclaimed (ha)

22,872

22,692

22,414

20,791

Total area of land reclaimed (ha)

6,705

6,620

6,438

6,357

Total footprint (ha)

29,577

29,312

28,852

27,148

(1) The area of land disturbed in the current year may include land that was previously reclaimed and has been re-disturbed. The total area of land reclaimed may decrease in a year due to unsuccessful reclamation attempts or the mining of a previously reclaimed area. Total footprint is the sum of total area of land yet to be reclaimed and total area of land reclaimed.
(2) Data has been restated due to changes in our accounting approach for our footprint.
(3) This data only applies to active operations, with the exception of Duck Pond Operations, which closed in June 2015.

 

Post-Closure in 2016

In 2016, all of our legacy sites remained in good standing and had no significant environmental incidents. We continue to manage long-term water requirements at many of our legacy sites; this includes our active water treatment facility at our Sullivan Mine legacy property.

At the former McCracken Mine in Arizona, one of our legacy properties, our project to remove tailings from federal lands adjacent to the site and place them in a repository constructed on-site was completed in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding negotiated with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2014.

At our Sullivan Mine legacy property, a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis workshop was conducted for the tailings facilities, to ensure that they continue to be well maintained. This workshop, which was an update to a similar undertaking carried out just prior to the mine closing, confirmed that that all of the facilities are being well managed from a risk perspective and that no major issues exist. It was also a good management tool to gauge closure and reclamation efforts over the past 20 years, and serves as an example of the value of such for our other legacy sites, where we will do similar risk updates.

Outlook for Closure Planning

Addressing mine closure issues, including early engagement with stakeholders on closure planning, is helping us to better align Teck’s business interests with local priorities; while we are proud of our closure history, we anticipate that this enhanced alignment will bring more effective outcomes. We will continue to ensure that our mine closure activities — from closure planning to progressive reclamation to post-closure management — effectively manage risk and meet or exceed our commitments. Our preparation for the closure of Coal Mountain Operations is ongoing in 2017, and we will begin detailed closure planning for Cardinal River Operations and continue to conduct life cycle planning during project development.

Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation

We begin planning for responsible mine closure before mining even starts, and that work carries on throughout the lifecycle of the operation, in cooperation with Indigenous peoples and local communities.
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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.