Our Business

Don Lindsay, President and CEO, and Ralph Lutes, Vice President, Asian Affairs, with representatives from UNICEF and community members on a visit to a village in India that is benefiting from our Zinc & Health program.

Creating Value, Changing Lives

Insights from Alannah Cervenko, Lead, Strategic Partnerships.

On Our Approach to Strategic Partnerships…

So often, when people see companies out in the world doing good, they assume it’s because it’s a nice thing to do, or it makes the company look good. But we know that when you apply a strategic business lens to social problems—especially problems that resonate with the company—you can have a profound impact on social good and truly make the world a better place.

Teck’s approach to developing programs like Zinc & Health and Copper & Health is fourfold:

  • First, we build smart partnerships. This means that we partner with organizations who can deliver excellent programs on the ground, and who can leverage our funding to ensure we reach the greatest number of people in the most cost-effective way.
  • Second, we invest in sustainable projects in areas of strategic interest to the company. 
  • Third, we align our projects with the priorities of the government. That may be here in Canada, or in developing countries where our projects operate, because often it is policy change that truly opens the door to innovation in healthcare.
  • Fourth, we are always thinking about how these projects can help us engage with key audiences, including our employees, our future employees and the people in the communities where we operate.

On Zinc & Health: What We’ve Achieved and What’s Ahead…

When Teck launched the Zinc & Health program in 2011, the goal was to help more children around the world reach their fifth birthday; Teck has played a role in making that happen, and to date:

  • 44 million children have received life-saving zinc treatments
  • 140 million people have improved health
  • Child mortality rates have decreased in all project countries
  • 1 million women have been educated and empowered

Despite our progress, 138 million people will be at new risk of zinc deficiency by 2050 due to the impact of climate change on crop nutrition. This means that now more than ever, we have to build partnerships that can be brought to scale to reach the greatest number of people in the most cost-effective way.

Moving forward, we’re focusing on two key Zinc & Health partnerships. We are working with international organizations to improve food security and nutrition by increasing the use of zinc fertilizer among rural, small-scale farmers in Gansu, China. If successful, this pilot project has the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty and improve health around the world. And we have extended our partnership with UNICEF in India for another five years, as we have made significant progress in reducing child deaths, but there is more work to be done.

Emma Schwartz, daugther of Michael Schwartz, Manager, Market Research, Toronto office, on a WE trip to Tanzania. Emma has been a strong supporter of the of the Zinc Saves Lives campaign, collecting batteries and even taking the stage at WE Day, inspiring other youth to help save children’s lives.

On Copper & Health: Our New Program…

Teck’s new Copper & Health program applies the same strategy and the same principles, with the goal of making a difference in the lives of people in Canada through the use of antimicrobial copper to reduce the spread of infections.

Healthcare-acquired infections are the fourth leading cause of death in Canada—250,000 Canadians will contract a healthcare-acquired infection this year, costing the healthcare system more than $1 billion annually.

Antimicrobial copper surfaces kill 99.9% of all the bacteria and viruses that come in contact with it. And studies show that introducing copper surfaces in a hospital can reduce dangerous infections like C. difficile and MRSA by up to 80%. But Canada has been slow to introduce innovations like copper surfaces,  which is why we developed our Copper & Health program, which is funding critical research that will help increase the adoption of copper in hospitals across Canada. 

Today, we are partnering with local hospitals to introduce copper surfaces in areas where patients are at the greatest risk of infection, and we are launching a nationwide Copper Saves Lives campaign with students across Canada to challenge them to think about where in their lives copper surfaces could help keep people healthy.

On How These Programs Create Value…

These programs are more than just a ‘nice thing to do’; these programs are also creating value for Teck and beyond in a number of ways.

How? We are leveraging opportunities to build trust and relationships through Zinc & Health and Copper & Health, which have helped position Teck as a partner of choice for government, NGOs, and the general public. These programs also create a positive profile for Teck as a good corporate citizen in emerging markets such as China and India.

These programs are also helping us recruit the best and brightest employees. Employees have better morale and are more likely to stay at a company longer when their company is making a positive contribution to society.

And finally, they are giving us new ways to talk about our products. Zinc and copper are game-changing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing health challenges. They can save lives, and that is pretty incredible. 

Where Would You Put Copper In Your Community?

Copper Saves Lives, and So Can You

Since 2011, Teck has partnered with WE, the world’s largest organization of children helping children, to raise awareness about zinc deficiency.

This year for WE Day, Teck is challenging students across Canada to create a video demonstrating where in their communities copper surfaces can help keep people healthy and safe. Teck will then select a winning video and install copper surfaces in the location of their choosing. For more information, visit coppersaveslives.com