Sustainable Mining through Collaborative Governance at Red Dog Operations

March 11, 2020

The success of Teck’s Red Dog Operations, one of the northernmost mines in North America, is the result of a unique and innovative operating agreement between a mining company and Indigenous Peoples.

Signed in 1982, this agreement between Teck and the land-owner NANA, a Regional Alaska Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of northwest Alaska, has governed the activities at Red Dog. The agreement ensures operations are environmentally sustainable, bring economic and social benefits to the region, and support the Iñupiat way of life, including protecting and maintaining access to subsistence activities such as caribou hunting.

A critical component of the operating agreement was the establishment of the Red Dog Management Committee, a joint committee consisting of six representatives from Teck and six from NANA.

This committee holds four regular meetings each year, and is not only tasked with oversight of exploration, mineral development and production activities associated with Red Dog, but is also responsible for jointly safeguarding the physical, cultural, economic, social and subsistence needs of the residents in the NANA region, a 98,400 square kilometer area with a population of approximately 7,700 people.

The committee’s collaborative decision-making approach is central to the strategic direction, operation, and development of the mine itself, as well as the promotion of specific initiatives. For example, the Committee is integral in advancing priorities such as local subsistence activities, developing strategic relationships with regional, state and federal governments and service agencies, shareholder employment, and creating training and business development opportunities for NANA shareholders.

The operating agreement has led to significant benefits. In 2019, 57% of Red Dog’s workforce were NANA shareholders, and $155 million was spent on Indigenous suppliers.

“The Management Committee’s ongoing oversight of mining operations ensures that the commitment to partnership between Teck and NANA is sustained and will continue to grow for the benefit of all residents throughout the region,” said Les Yesnik, General Manager, Red Dog Operations.

Learn more about our approach to Relationships with Communities and Indigenous Peoples on our website.


First Published on March 11, 2020