Black bear peeking through dense foliage with colorful autumn leaves in the background.

Mining and Protected Areas

ICMM company members recognize the tensions that exist around access to, and competing uses of, land. In this position statement, ICMM addresses the importance of biodiversity conservation, the need for properly designated and managed systems of protected areas and integrated approaches to land use planning.

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. 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.

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. 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 have used this information as an input during the development of biodiversity management plans for each operation.

Achieving a Net Positive Impact

Our vision for biodiversity management is to achieve a net positive impact (NPI) on biodiversity in areas affected by our activities. This means that ecosystems and biodiversity are better off at the end of mining than when we found them.

Mitigation Hierarchy

The mitigation hierarchy is a key framework 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. This approach is guided by the following principles:

  • Avoid: Whenever possible, we avoid biodiversity impacts. In some cases, this may require significant changes in our plans in order to protect critical areas
  • Minimize: At all times, we minimize impacts that are unavoidable, adopting best practices in mine operations
  • Reclaim: On a progressive basis, we rehabilitate areas in order to re-create biodiversity values. Reclamation practices can replace much or most of the diversity of the natural habitats that existed prior to mining
  • Offset: For areas where it may not be possible to replace all of the important biodiversity features that our mines impact, we design and implement biodiversity offsets to move towards a net positive impact on biodiversity

In addition to this framework, we consider the cumulative effects to ecosystems caused by other parties’ past, present and reasonably foreseeable future activities. We then plan and implement protective or restorative actions based on our potential contributions to current conditions, and adjust our actions based on ongoing monitoring and research.

Biodiversity Management Plans

We currently have biodiversity management plans at each of our operations that set out how NPI can 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 and mitigate risks to achieve a net positive impact for each element
  • A list of activities and resources required to implement the plan

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, such as viability of subsistence activities, using a register that scores risks based on biodiversity, social/community, regulatory compliance and reputational factors. These plans are reviewed internally and updated as needed annually.

Social Environmental and Regulatory Approvals (SERA)

Typical environmental assessments for new mines or mine extensions are similar to our biodiversity management plans, in which the ecosystems and biodiversity elements relevant to a project or operation are identified, the risks and impacts on these elements are assessed, and a mitigation plan is developed that will reduce the project’s net impacts to a targeted level.

Despite the similarities, we continue to implement our biodiversity management plans as they are typically more expansive than the scope of an environmental assessment for the same site. Additionally, the goal of most environmental assessments is to minimize the residual impacts on biodiversity to an acceptable level; however, Teck’s goal across all sites is to achieve NPI, as described above.

Our work in this area is externally verified by an independent third-party every year. Learn more in our sustainability report.