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Building a Stronger Future, One Rock at a Time

Travelling to India to help a small community build a dam isn’t exactly a vacation, but it’s how one Applied Research and Technology (ART) employee chose to spend his holiday.

In March 2017, Mark Richards, Manager, Mining Technology, and his wife, Jacqui, were among a group of a dozen or so individuals who left the comforts of home bound for a labour-intensive two-week excursion abroad.

The group was brought together by Developing World Connections, an organization that matches volunteers with partners in developing countries to work together on projects that create long-lasting impact. In this case, volunteers also backed the project by acting as donors with a $500 investment towards the enterprise; the remaining costs are paid by the residents of the benefiting community.

For this particular trip, the Kamloops, B.C. office of Developing World Connections worked with a non-profit in India to set the group up in a village near Bhinder, a community close to Udaipur, known as the Venice of India. Together, Mark and the rest of the team were to work with tribal subsistence farmers and their families on a project to construct a small dam, or weir, designed to harvest water as a means of doubling or tripling crop production.

The introduction of dams in the area has proven to help grow produce not only to feed the village people but also to increase the harvest enough for cash crops. 

“The idea is to build weirs to hold back enough water during the monsoon season so that the water percolates down into the water table and helps to recharge it,” explains Mark. “This will provide enough extra water to irrigate 10 hectares.”

On day one, the team turned up at the construction site to see an excavated trench and pile of nearby blasted rock. The crew quickly settled into their workstations, with the majority of the labour revolving around moving rocks towards skilled masons.

Other work-stations included mixing and carrying mortar using metal bowls balanced on their heads, breaking rock and carrying it to the dam, and laying the rock and mortar to build the dam. The team used a makeshift ladder carried flat like a stretcher to haul boulders. 

He says that the country continually surprised him with the contrasts between modernity and traditional practices, and though he loved his time there, Mark felt ready to return home at the end.

“Working with the people was really fun, even though we had no shared language; there was an emotional farewell at the closing-day ceremony for locals and the team members alike,” he shares. “There were a lot of hugs and you could tell our efforts were appreciated. You really felt you were making a difference.” 

Mark, who says he intends to go on a similar trip in the future, is just one of Teck’s employees who give back with purpose. 

Do you have a story of an employee who’s making a difference in the community or around the globe? Share your story idea with us by e-mailing connect@teck.com

Thank You

Download Connect Volume 19

Many thanks to those who contributed to and participated in this issue of Connect:

Catherine Adair, Community Relations Leader, Trail Operations; Ken Andersen, Mine Technical Supervisor, Highland Valley Copper; Mohammad Babaei, Senior Technical Analyst, IS+T Operational Technology, Line Creek Operations; Marsha Bradcoe (retired), Haul Truck Driver, Fording River Operations; Barbara Brice, Senior Human Resources Generalist, Pend Oreille Mine; Pamela Chait, Manager, Corporate Affairs, Santiago office; Rebecca Edwards, Communications Coordinator, Sparwood office; Francisca Gregorio, Communications Specialist, Corporate Affairs, Santiago office; Gord Kavaloff, Senior Reliability Specialist, Trail Operations; Hadden Kelloway, Blaster, Elkview Operations; Brian Kennedy, Project Director, Project Development and Engineering, Vancouver office; Peter Martell, Superintendent, Environment and Community Affairs, Highland Valley Copper; Cole Massaro, Equipment Operator, Greenhills Operations; Anna Mihalj, Technician, Mining, Engineering, Greenhills Operations; Nic Milligan, Manager, Social Responsibility, Sparwood office; Rick Plovie, Support Equipment Planner, Highland Valley Copper; Marisol Reategui, Executive Assistant, Exploartion (Americas), Surco office; Mark Richards, Manager, Mining Technology, Applied Research and Technology; Jacqui Schneider, Senior Community Affairs Officer, Highland Valley Copper; Herman Urrejola, Manager, Social Responsibility, Santiago office; Fritz Westlake, Community Relations Coordinator, Public Relations, Red Dog Operations; Richard Weymark, Dam Construction Manager, Highland Valley Copper; Alexa Young, Manager, Federal Government Affairs, Vancouver office

On the Cover

Sebastian Malagueño, Plant Manager, Quebrada Blanca Operations


Have a story that you would like to share through Connect? Submit your article and high-quality photos to: connect@teck.com