Teck Logo

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.

Our Approach to Responsible Mine Closure and Reclamation

"We simply will not start a project unless we are first confident that we can responsibly close and rehabilitate it when mining is finished. That is an important part of who we are as a company, and it is a commitment our employees are proud to work hard to uphold." -Don Lindsay, President and CEO

We begin planning for mine closure begins before mining starts, and that work carries on throughout the lifecycle of the operation. We work with Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the area to create closure plans focused on supporting the economic and social transition after mining ends, as well as a range of productive post-mining land uses.

This work is guided by our vision of achieving a net-positive impact on biodiversity in the areas where we operate. This means that the ecosystem and biodiversity of the mining area and its broader surroundings will be in better off than before the mining occurred. Responsible mine closure and reclamation is a major part of achieving this vision.

Reclamation Videos

  • Teck takes a comprehensive approach to responsible mine closure and reclamation before mining even starts – and that work carries on throughout the life of the mine.


    Our commitment to responsible closure and reclamation

  • Mine closure encompasses the entire process for the end of a mining operation, from planning and decommissioning through to reclamation and transition for communities and employees.


    Our approach to responsible mine closure

  • We undertake careful reclamation and conservation work after mining is completed, with the goal of achieving a net-positive impact on biodiversity.


    Achieving a net-positive effect on biodiversity

  • Reclamation, one of the major components of the mine closure process, involves restoring mined lands to thriving ecosystems once mining is finished.


    Our approach to mine reclamation

  • When the Teck Sullivan Mine began to approach its closure, we worked with the community to plan for a new phase of growth and opportunity for the region.


    Building a future for Sullivan Mine

  • At Teck Highland Valley Copper Operations, a former tailings pond has been transformed into a healthy, self-sustaining aquatic habitat.


    Reclaiming Trojan Pond at Highland Valley Copper Operations

  • Teck’s Fording River mine in the Elk Valley of southeastern B.C. has pioneered mining reclamation research and innovative reclamation techniques for decades.


    A tradition of reclamation at Fording River Operations

  • At Teck’s Greenhills Operations we are undertaking research to better understand the types of plant species that are best for revegetation as part of our work in reclamation.


    Reclamation research at Teck Greenhills Operations

  • Our commitment to responsible closure and reclamation
  • Our approach to responsible mine closure
  • Achieving a net-positive effect on biodiversity
  • Our approach to mine reclamation
  • Building a future for Sullivan Mine
  •  Reclaiming Trojan Pond at Highland Valley Copper Operations
  • A tradition of reclamation at Fording River Operations
  •  Reclamation research at Teck Greenhills Operations

Overview of Mine Closure and Reclamation

Reclamation—one of the largest components of the mine closure process—is the way mined lands are restored for other positive post-mining uses in cooperation with the local community and Indigenous Peoples.

Our objectives for reclamation:

  • Conserve and enhance biodiversity
  • Return mined areas to productive uses

Mine closure is the entire process of winding down operations at a mine, including planning for closure, decommissioning of the mine site, reclamation and ongoing monitoring. Our approach to mine closure begins before mining starts and carries on throughout the lifecycle of the mine. We work with the Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the area to create closure plans focused on supporting the economic and social transition after mining ends, establishing a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem and opportunities for a range of potential post-mining land uses.

.

In Detail: Our Approach to Mine Closure

At Teck, we plan for responsible mine closure before mining begins. Our approach to closure is to responsibly end and decommission mining operations while working with Indigenous Peoples and communities to reflect their input and priorities for viable, long-term and diverse post-closure land uses.

Our Approach to Mine Closure

“Our goal is to work cooperatively with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to restore mined areas back to a state where they can support a range of post-mining land uses, from wildlife habitat to economic diversification”. - Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs

Mining operations are often key contributors to employment, local businesses, and social benefits for nearby communities, so we understand that steps must be taken to minimize economic impacts after the mine closes. We work with communities to identify ways of supporting them through the transition.

During the closure phase, we focus on returning the land to a stable state for post-mining land uses and healthy ecosystems.

Once the mine site is closed, it is monitored and managed on a long-term basis to ensure that our closure actions remain successful in achieving the goals we planned for back at the beginning. Key objectives include: healthy ecosystems, public safety, water quality protection, and alternative uses for the land as suggested by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

The Mine Closure Process: A Closer Look

  • Early engagement with communities and Indigenous Peoples
    • Build relationships
    • Inform and engage before any activity begins
    • Involve in closure and end land use planning
  • Outline of progressive and post-closure reclamation
  • Forecast mine life and closure date
  • Assess potential community impacts of closure and mitigation strategies
  • Estimate of resources needed for closure and reclamation
  • Expand upon closure and end land use plan, including more detailed information on how we will:
    • Reclaim mining areas and water features such as tailings facilities
    • Ensure biodiversity is protected, including vegetation and wildlife habitat
    • Help transition employees and local communities to a post-mining economy
  • Continue engagement with communities and Indigenous Peoples
    • Engage in detailed closure and end land use planning
    • Prepare employees and communities for effects of closure
  • Update the plan throughout the life of the mine to ensure it remains relevant; incorporate new issues, research and practices
  • Planning intensifies as a mine begins to near the end of its life
  • Occurs when the mine reaches its end of life, usually when ore reserves are exhausted
  • Smaller crews remain at site to dismantle the mine processing facilities and equipment
    • Buildings and physical infrastructure are removed, relocated or disassembled
    • Removing and properly disposing of any hazardous materials
  • For employees, we provide transition support and work to identify opportunities to move them to other operations where possible
  • Dialogue continues with local stakeholders to support the postmining economic and social transition
  • Progressive reclamation occurs throughout the mining process
  • At closure, reclamation activities focus on returning all remaining disturbed land to a stable state for post-mining land uses (e.g., wetlands, various wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation, commercial uses)
  • Activities can include:
    • Revegetating areas
    • Managing water quality
    • Resloping and contouring rock piles as necessary
    • Capping or covering waste rock piles
    • Closing or reclaiming water features, including tailings facilities
  • Our Legacy Properties team manages post-closure at former mine sites
  • We continue to engage with communities to implement end land use opportunities; such as:
    • Biodiversity conservation
    • Indigenous Peoples’ subsistence activities (e.g., hunting and gathering)
    • Recreation (e.g., fishing, hunting)
    • Agriculture
    • Local economic development opportunities
  • Monitoring programs assess the effectiveness of reclamation strategies and identify any additional reclamation work that may be needed
  • Ongoing care and maintenance to ensure public safety and that our closure actions were successful in achieving end land use objectives, including:
    • Ecosystem rehabilitation
    • Water treatment, if necessary
    • Monitoring and maintenance of any remaining water structures
    • Public access management and safety

In Detail: Our Approach to Reclamation

The goal of reclamation is to conserve and enhance biodiversity, protect the environment, and turn lands where mining has occurred over to new and productive uses. This work can include establishing healthy wildlife areas and wetlands, or preparing for future economic or recreational uses.

Our Approach to Reclamation

The goal of reclamation is to conserve and enhance biodiversity, protect the environment, and turn lands where mining has occurred over to new and productive uses. This work can include establishing healthy wildlife areas and wetlands, or preparing for future economic or recreational uses.

We engage with governments, communities and Indigenous Peoples about our reclamation plans and objectives prior to mining. We adopted this approach to promote a more inclusive and collaborative way of doing business and outcomes that better reflect what local stakeholders want for their region.

The Mine Reclamation Process: A Closer Look

Prior to mining, we conduct social, environmental, regulatory and archeological assessments and consult with Indigenous Peoples and local communities regarding traditional and recreational land uses. The information we gather on the original conditions at our mine sites helps shape our long-term reclamation targets for areas such as water, soil and biodiversity, as well as end land uses.

During our initial research we develop a biodiversity baseline for each site that guides our reclamation plans. It helps us ensure we are minimizing impacts to animals, plants and their habitats, and is factored into all our work throughout the life of the mine.

To prepare the site for mining, we begin by removing the sand, gravel, topsoil and vegetation in the areas we plan to mine. Where practicable, we save this mixed soil material so we can use it as part of reclamation work as mining is completed. Soil is a valuable resource for re-establishing native plant-life, which leads on to habitat for birds, insects and other animals to make the former mine their home once again.

When mining in a particular area of the operation is complete, we begin the work of reclaiming that area of the mine even as work continues in other areas of the operation.

Sloping and placing soil
 
We re-slope the area as required, and place the soil material salvaged in Step 2 on areas of the mine to be revegetated. We may also use additional coarse woody debris—fallen trees and large branches found in the areas ground cover during the reclamation process—as ground cover during the reclamation process. We also use wildlife trees, dead trees placed vertically in the ground, to provide structures on rocky areas which can be used as nesting or perching habitat for birds. This enhances the biodiversity value of the reclaimed landscape by returning key elements of mature or old growth forest that create suitable habitat for nesting birds.

Replanting
 
Whenever possible, we plant native species when reclaiming a mined area, chosen based on research and consultation conducted during previous planning phases. We use those native species most likely to survive and thrive in a particular area and we also plant the type of vegetation most suitable for natural ecosystems that occur in the area, in order to achieve ecosystem and biodiversity objectives. We also incorporate cultural uses of the land, after learning about those from area Indigenous peoples and other community stakeholders tied to the land.

For example, one area of reclamation at our Fording River Operations is a relatively low-elevation site, and is east-facing, which means that the slopes are cooler and moister than a sunny west-facing slope would be. This results in selection of plant species that will thrive in a cooler and moister environment. Species such as Engelmann spruce will have much higher growth rates in these sites than if planted on a drier and warmer site. Reclamation at higher elevation sites can mean a harsher climate—higher winds, more exposed sites—so vegetation planted in these areas needs to be tailored to thrive in these conditions. A lot of work goes into determining the right types of vegetation to plan: site studies, Indigenous peoples consultation and science informs these decisions.

Reclaiming water features
 
Another important part of the reclamation process is reclaiming water features at the mine site, such as tailings ponds and pit lakes. Tailings are the finely ground rock particles, sand, silt and other substances left following the process that extracts the valuable resource (e.g. copper, zinc, steelmaking coal) from the rock. They are often stored in tailings ponds created through the use of berms, dams or natural features that hold it all in place. Depending on the reclamation plan and the end land uses, these ponds are either entirely drained of water and decommissioned, or turned into new aquatic ecosystems of their own.

In some cases, our closure plans include creating other new water features that remain after mining, called pit lakes. In this case, when one area of a mine is complete, the remaining pit can be filled with tailings or rock and then covered with water, creating a new lake. Turning tailings ponds and pit lakes into functioning, healthy aquatic ecosystems is something Teck has done successfully at several of our sites, including our Highland Valley and Cardinal River operations.

Once reclamation of an area is complete, we monitor the success of reclamation activities and adjust our approaches as necessary to ensure our land-use plans are working and environmental and biodiversity objectives are being achieved.

At some mine sites, long-term treatment of water is required. In those cases, Teck responsibly operates and maintains those facilities, and monitors to ensure water quality targets are being met.

Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation

Read more about our approach to mine closure and reclamation. 

Read More
Teck Logo

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