Teck’s Red Dog Operations is located in a remote part of northwest Alaska and requires flight access for our employees and suppliers. In addition to a regular commercial flight to the mine, several operators provide aviation services with multiple stops in small communities.
Our challenge is that on-demand air services in remote areas tend to have some of the highest accident rates in the world. As a result, we go beyond government regulation and collaborate with aviation providers to implement additional safety governance, risk management and auditing practices to protect workers.
Even with robust management systems, incidents can occur. In August 2016, one of the aviation operators had a fatal event in Alaska, and while no Teck employees or suppliers were involved, we ceased all work with the operator. As a result of the incident, we conducted a comprehensive safety audit and assessment of all operators who fly to Red Dog to identify gaps in their systems and where corrective action plans may be put in place.
Following the assessment, we engaged all of our aviation operators to communicate the results and put forward the corrective action plans. The specific operator in question fully implemented the plan, and as of early 2018, we have begun working with them again.
The assessment at Red Dog led to the update and enhancement of a Teck-wide Aviation Standard along with supplemental documents that cover commercial air travel, helicopter external load operators, remotely piloted aircraft operations, airborne geophysical survey operators and aviation safety audits. The Standard is aligned with the Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS), which is officially supported by the International Council on Mining and Metals.
Setting this Aviation Standard has allowed us to achieve some efficiencies, such as a common approach to aviation safety and targeted risk-reduction activities to support our remote location work. More importantly, the Aviation Standard makes it clear to all providers that Teck has a commitment to everyone, from employees to suppliers, that all should go home safe and healthy every day.