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Biodiversity

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

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. As recently outlined in the OECD Environment in 2015 Report, there is increasing evidence that ecosystems will be challenged over the long term to continue providing essential services such as food provision, soil formation and climate regulation due to ongoing environmental degradation.

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OECD Environment in 2015

 

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. 

Regulatory requirements are changing in response to widening recognition of these impacts on biodiversity, including requirements to tailor mine reclamation to meet requirements of wildlife and plants of greatest conservation concern, and requirements to implement biodiversity offsets to mitigate impacts that cannot be fully addressed through avoidance, minimization and rehabilitation.

Responsible mining companies also can create significant opportunities to achieve positive impacts on biodiversity, and on people's ability to benefit from and enjoy nature. This can include the protection and restoration of ecosystems and sharing expertise to improve biodiversity management.  

Learn More 
United Nations Environmental Programme: Biodiversity Report 
Convention on Biological Diversity: Global Biodiversity Outlook 
November 2014 ICMM Biodiversity Performance Review 

 

All our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value, including tropical 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. Our COIs 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 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 of all species 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

100%

of operations developed biodiversity management plans focused on our long-term vision of having a net positive impact

Continued our investment in biodiversity research projects and partnerships, including caribou projects near our Quintette project and native plant collection and archiving projects with the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Our Targets and Commitments

We are working to achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity in areas affected by our activities, to implement biodiversity management plans for each of our operations and to develop net positive impact targets for exploration, construction and closure stages.

How Does Teck Manage Biodiversity?

We work 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 areas, achieving a net positive impact, developing biodiversity management plans and reclamation. 

Biodiversity is considered throughout all stages of our business; we put this into practice through comprehensive environmental management systems and tools such as our 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 carefully assess how our activities can impact biodiversity prior to disturbance, to develop a biodiversity baseline, and to implement site-specific plans that minimize our impacts, from exploration through to closure. The actions we use to achieve these goals include progressive reclamation, the use of native vegetation species (with seed from local sources where feasible), and using the most recent research and techniques. 

Through engagement with our 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 and time to hunt during traditional hunting season are priorities that we support through our subsistence committee with NANA. 

 

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 areas1. High biodiversity value areas have features that provide essential ecosystem services relied on by humans and animals, an abundance of rare, vulnerable or endemic species, and/or large areas of relatively intact natural habitat.

Using a combination of databases to identify global conservation priorities, 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 determined that these characteristics exist within or adjacent to all of our operations; this information is an important input into the development of biodiversity management plans for each operation. Each of our operations have occurrences of species at risk within and adjacent to the operation. Some examples include the olive-sided flycatcher (a local bird) at all of our Canadian operations, whitebark pine at many of our southeastern B.C. steelmaking coal operations, and the guanaco (related to the llama) at some of our Chilean sites.

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 IUCN; however, the road between Red Dog Operations and its port facility passes through the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, an IUCN category III protected area. 

(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).

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

In 2015, we accomplished our goal to develop biodiversity management plans (BMPs) at all of our current operations that set out how NPI would be achieved at all our operations. 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 net positive impact for each element
  • A list of activities and resources required to implement the plan


Figure 28: Teck’s Approach to Developing Biodiversity Management Plans


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

To create the BMPs, operations and advanced projects collect biodiversity information, conduct a preliminary identification of risks and existing mitigation actions, conduct gap analyses and create workplans. We identify risks based on a risk register that weights risk 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 example, our steelmaking coal operations are located in the habitat of grizzly bears, a species of special concern, and we work to understand, conserve and restore their habitat. Habitat mitigation includes ongoing reclamation activities conducted at each site as well as multi-partner conservation initiatives. Follow the link to learn more about how are working to conserve habitat, such as purchasing 7,150 hectares of land near our operations.

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 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. Follow the link to learn more about our approach to mine closure.

 

Progress Against Our 2015 Goals

 

  • Developed comprehensive biodiversity management plans for all operations. Examples of work in 2015 include continuing to consult with the regional subsistence committee and incorporating advice on timing of our activities such as road hauling and shipping, in order to minimize our impacts on wildlife such as caribou and marine mammals at our Red Dog Operations. 
  • Developed plans to offset impacts at our operations, which includes work such as: continuing our development of the Lower Columbia Ecosystem Management Program around Trail Operations and advancing our evaluation of biodiversity offset opportunities at Carmen de Andacollo Operations.

 

What was Our Performance in Biodiversity in 2015?

We are working to improve our reporting on the biodiversity risks and opportunities at each of our operations and our approach to managing the issues. For an overview of the area reclaimed and disturbed to date, see Mine Closure section. 

Table 27: Key Activities and Accomplishments in Biodiversity in 2015

Operation

Steps to Implement Biodiversity Mitigation Hierarchy (see page 119 for further detail)

Performance Highlight

Highland Valley Copper

Avoid impacts where possible

We conducted field surveys for the presence of nesting birds prior to clearing vegetation for new land disturbance. We also conducted tests to learn how to best incorporate culturally significant native plants in our reclamation programs.

Red Dog Operations

Minimize impacts that are unavoidable

We continued to consult with the regional subsistence committee and incorporate advice on timing of our activities such as road hauling and shipping, in order to minimize our impacts on wildlife such as caribou and marine mammals. 

Coal Mountain, Elkview, Greenhills, Fording River, Line Creek Operations

Rehabilitate affected areas

At our Elk Valley, B.C. steelmaking coal operations, we committed to consider ways in which the reclaimed areas of the mine can be made to more closely achieve pre-mining characteristics. This may include steps that can be taken on young forests to provide some of the characteristics of older forests, such as additional placement of woody debris, organic soil amendments, and wildlife tree placement to support woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting species

Carmen de Andacollo and Quebrada Blanca Operations

Offset any residual impacts

We began our evaluation of biodiversity offset opportunities for achieving our Net Positive Impact vision by working with external biodiversity experts to examine the potential applicability of regional offset opportunities that have been prioritized in the region.  

Trail Operations

Offset any residual impacts

Continued our development of the Lower Columbia Ecosystem Management Program (LCEMP) around Trail. LCEMP is a program we developed to leverage restoration and conservation offset opportunities available to Teck by linking them with the biodiversity conservation objectives of regional regulatory agencies and non-governmental organizations. In 2015, while advancing development of the overall program framework, we also acted on several new opportunities to protect habitats on Teck-owned lands in the area. For example, we completed fencing installations to protect yellow-breasted chat bird habitat in the Pend Oreille valley.

Outlook for Biodiversity

In 2016, our biodiversity priority is the continued implementation of biodiversity management plans at all operations. For example, at several of our operations, including Highland Valley Copper, we will work to redefine our post-mining land use objectives so that our ongoing reclamation actions are better directed towards the habitat needs of plants and wildlife that existed on the site before mining began. We will develop net positive impact objectives for exploration, construction and closure stages.

 

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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.