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Biodiversity and Reclamation

Management and performance related to our biodiversity management plans, anticipating and minimizing impacts on species and ecosystems, our work in reclamation and closure planning.

GRI Indicators
304-103, 304-1, 304-2, 304-3, 304-4, G4-MM2

Biodiversity and Reclamation

As the global population has increased, so too has the global per capita consumption of materials. Close to 60 billion tonnes of renewable and non-renewable resources are extracted each year around the world, up nearly 100% since 1980.1 In the face of resource consumption driven by globalization and urbanization, biodiversity is at risk. With close to one million animal and plant species now threatened with extinction2 the loss of biodiversity and the impact on ecosystems are concerns and challenges for many, including companies, governments and civil society. Working together to find innovative solutions for biodiversity protection will help towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 15 to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Mining operations can directly or indirectly impact biodiversity and ecosystems. Regulatory requirements are becoming increasingly stringent in response to widening recognition of these impacts. This includes requirements to tailor reclamation, with a focus on wildlife and plants of greatest conservation concern, and to implement biodiversity offsets to mitigate impacts that cannot be fully addressed through avoidance, minimization and rehabilitation.

Our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value, including temperate and arctic areas, mountains, forests and deserts. This proximity, as well as the nature of our operations, means that we have a significant responsibility for land and biodiversity management. Stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples expect us to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and to work collaboratively with them to develop integrated approaches to land use.

Aligning to regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations, we aim to avoid, minimize or restore negative impacts on biodiversity in our operations, and we further challenge ourselves to working towards securing a net positive impact on biodiversity. We also have a firm commitment, in accordance with the ICMM world-leading position statement on respecting biodiversity, to not explore or mine in World Heritage sites and to respect all legally designated protected areas, including International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category Ia, Ib, II, III or IV protected areas.

 
1 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 2019 (https://www.ipbes.net/system/tdf/ipbes_7_10_add.1_en_1.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=35329)
2 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 2019 (https://www.ipbes.net/system/tdf/ipbes_7_10_add.1_en_1.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=35329)

Our Approach to Biodiversity and Reclamation

Our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value3 including temperate and arctic areas, forests and deserts. Effectively managing biodiversity, reclamation and closure is a part of our commitment to responsible resource development, is integral to meeting regulatory requirements and maintains community support for our activities.

We recognize that our activities have the potential to impact biodiversity and to alter ecosystems in a significant way, which can affect individual species as well as the provision of critical ecosystem services that communities rely on. Indigenous Peoples in many areas also rely on the land to maintain traditional ways of life.

We work collaboratively with stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples to develop integrated approaches to land use and to operate in a manner that minimizes and mitigates our impacts. Through reclamation after mining is completed, we can replace much of the structural and compositional diversity of the natural habitats that existed before we developed our mines.

 
3 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.

 

The Board of Directors, through its Safety and Sustainability Committee, oversees health, safety, environment and community policies, systems, performance and auditing, including our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards. The Standards include specific guidance on biodiversity management, reclamation and closure.

The following senior leaders are involved in implementing the management of biodiversity and reclamation:

  • Our Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for sustainability, health and safety, environment, community, and Indigenous affairs, including biodiversity and conservation
  • The Vice President, Environment oversees compliance with environmental standards for projects, operations and our legacy properties, and regularly reviews environmental performance risks and strategic issues
  • The Director, Environment is responsible for leading our approach to biodiversity, reclamation and closure

Our Code of Sustainable Conduct describes how we will integrate biodiversity conservation considerations through all stages of business and production activities. It also outlines our commitment to continually improve our environmental practices and ensure they are fully integrated into each of our activities.

We work with various local, national and international organizations and programs to support biodiversity:

  • International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM): A global industry association that represents leading international mining and metals companies who are required to implement the ICMM 10 Principles, including Principle 7 on conservation of biodiversity and land use planning
  • Mining Association of Canada (MAC): Promotes the development of Canada’s mining and mineral processing industry; through MAC, we are required to implement the Towards Sustainable Mining program, which aids in improving industry performance
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada: Our partnership with this leading national land conservation organization includes collaboration on conservation projects, along with financial support from time to time
  • The Nature Trust of British Columbia: Through collaboration, Teck supports the organization’s goal of conserving B.C.’s biological diversity

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.

As a member of the ICMM, 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 V 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 use this information as important inputs during the development, implementation and monitoring of biodiversity management plans for each operation. Our strategy places a high priority on addressing potential impacts to critical habitat for species at risk. A summary of the results of the proximity analysis, including those prioritized by international conservation initiatives such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas, and the World Wildlife Fund’s Global 200 priority ecoregions, are shown in the table below.

Teck’s Proximity to Global Conservation Priority Species

Teck Site

Type of Global Conservation Priority

Sites Overlapping with Mining Operations

Sites within 25 km of Mining Operations

Carmen de Andacollo

 

 

 

 

Biodiversity Hotspot

1

 

G200-Marine

1

 

G200-Terrestrial

1

 

IUCN Category lll

 

1

Endemic Bird Area

1

 

Cardinal River

 

 

IUCN Category lb

 

2

IUCN Category ll

 

1

World Heritage Site

 

1

Coal Mountain

 

IUCN Category la

 

1

IUCN Category ll

 

2

Elkview

 

IUCN Category lb

 

1

IUCN Category ll

 

2

Fording River

IUCN Category la

 

1

IUCN Category lb

 

5

IUCN Category ll

 

1

Galore Creek

G200-Freshwater

1

 

G200-Terrestrial

 

1

Greenhills

 

IUCN Category la

 

1

IUCN Category lb

 

3

Highland Valley Copper

 

 

 

G200-Freshwater

1

 

IUCN Category la

 

2

IUCN Category ll

 

9

IUCN Category lll

 

2

IUCN Category Vl

 

1

Line Creek

IUCN Category lb

 

2

Quebrada Blanca

 

 

Biodiversity Hotspot

1

 

G200-Freshwater

 

1

G200-Terrestrial

1

1

Quintette

 

G200-Freshwater

 

1

IUCN Category ll

 

2

Red Dog

G200-Marine

1

 

G200-Terrestrial

1

 

IUCN Category lb

 

1

IUCN Category lll

 

 

IUCN Category V

1

1

NuevaUnión

Biodiversity Hotspot

1

 

G200-Marine

1

 

G200-Terrestrial

1

 

Endemic Bird Area

1

 

Trail

IUCN Category ll

 

3

IUCN Category lll

 

1


 

Our vision for biodiversity management is to secure 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. The following principles guide our approach:

  • 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 and reclaim areas with a view to closure. 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.

 

See this case study for additional details on how we measure our NPI.

In addition to this framework, we consider the cumulative effects to ecosystems caused by the past, present and reasonably foreseeable future activities of other parties. 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.

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 analysis and create work plans. We identify risks, such as the 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.

Teck’s Approach to Developing Biodiversity Management Plans

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.

Responsibly closing our sites and managing our legacy properties plays an important role in protecting biodiversity on the lands where mining once took place. While we are still operating at a site, we progressively reclaim portions of the mine site that are no longer required for current or possible future mining purposes. We apply the principle of “equivalent land capability” to reclaim land to the equivalent capability that will support species that live in the area, according to reclamation and land use objectives.

Our reclamation activities focused on conserving biodiversity include aerial seeding in mined-out pits and the development of diverse wildlife habitats. This is supported by monitoring, such as annual wildlife surveys, documentation of wildlife using trail cameras, and the development of tracking databases to record rare and unusual wildlife sightings.

We implement leading reclamation practices through ongoing research and maintain an internal community of practice to share this knowledge across our operations. For more information about reclamation, see the Responsible Mine Closure and Reclamation page on our website.

Reclamation Security

Many jurisdictions require mining companies to post financial security for all or part of the remaining costs associated with the mine reclamation and environmental protection. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that governments will not have to unreasonably contribute to the costs of reclamation and environmental protection of a mine site if a company is unable to meet its obligation to fully close and reclaim the site.

At Teck, we take this responsibility very seriously, and we meet all government requirements for security. We are committed to ensuring that this financial security never needs to be accessed, as we responsibly close and reclaim our mine sites, and meet all of our environmental obligations, at no cost to government or taxpayers.

Our sustainability strategy outlines our goals in relation to continuously improving biodiversity and reclamation at our operations. In 2019, we conducted broad engagement with employees and external stakeholders to identify and prioritize global trends and issues and set a new sustainability strategy, including new goals in biodiversity and reclamation.

Strategic Priority:

  • Work towards securing a net positive impact on biodiversity

 

Goal:

  • By 2025, all operating sites have, and are implementing, plans to secure net-positive impact

 

Our focus in 2020 will be on making progress towards our new goals and concluding final steps on the 2020 biodiversity and reclamation goals within our previous sustainability strategy.

By 2020, we will:

  • Implement biodiversity management plans for each of our operations
  • Integrate the consideration of biodiversity into the exploration, construction and closure stages of the mining life cycle
  • Enhance our contributions to biodiversity conservation knowledge through collaboration in research, education and conservation

 

For more information on our existing and new sustainability strategy goals, see the Sustainability Strategy section of our website.

Type

Organization

Items Reviewed

External

Mining Association of Canada: Towards Sustainable Mining assurance

  • Corporate biodiversity conservation policy, accountability and communications
  • Facility-level biodiversity conservation planning and implementation

External

International Council on Mining and Metals: Sustainability Report assurance

  • Total area reclaimed (hectares)
  • Total land disturbed and yet to be rehabilitated (hectares)
  • Biodiversity conservation reporting
  • Principle 7: Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use planning

External

ISO 14001 External Audit

  • Components of the environmental management system at each site

Internal

Risk-based Health, Safety and Environment audits

  • Adherence to regulatory and permit requirements
  • Effectiveness of controls based on risk profile

Following each of these types of assurance, applicable management teams use the results to inform future actions and Teck’s five-year planning process.

We report on our performance against these indicators and our progress towards our biodiversity and reclamation management goals on an annual basis in our sustainability report. 

Our Performance in Biodiversity and Reclamation in 2019

Table 34: Key Activities and Accomplishments in Biodiversity and Reclamation in 2019

Operation

Performance Highlight

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Conducted prescribed burn trial at Highland Valley Copper Operations to test whether prescribed burns in reclaimed tailings and waste rock areas could accelerate recovery of native ecosystems. HVC also initiated reclamation trials on establishing targeted post-closure ecosystems and testing the effectiveness of various revegetation techniques. See this case study in this link. 

Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

Fording River Operations began a reclamation trial aimed at re-establishing high-elevation grasslands in bighorn sheep winter ranges. This trial also incorporates the design of wetter areas and specific landform elements into waste rock dump re-sloping/revegetation projects.

Line Creek Operations constructed bird shelters, with the aim of diverting cliff swallows away from buildings and equipment.


Area Reclaimed and Disturbed

At the end of 2019, Teck had a total footprint of 32,464 hectares (ha), of which 26,683 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 5,781 ha have been reclaimed. As this data relates to active operations, the area of land yet to be reclaimed will generally increase over time until the mining areas are closed and become available for reclamation.

Table 35: Area Reclaimed and Disturbed(1)

 

2019

2018

2017

2016

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

18

31

30

147

Area disturbed during the current year (ha)

1,846

1,018

388

421

Area of land yet to be reclaimed (ha)

26,683

24,914(2)

23,922(2)

23,449(2)

Total area of land reclaimed (ha)

5,781

5,705(2)

5,878(2)

6,100(2)

Total footprint (ha)

32,464

30,619

29,800

29,549(2)

(1) The area of land disturbed in the current year may include land that was previously reclaimed and has been re-disturbed. The total area of land reclaimed may decrease in a year, due to unsuccessful reclamation attempts or the mining of a previously reclaimed area. Total footprint is the sum of total area of land yet to be reclaimed and total area of land reclaimed. Values are based on estimates stemming from the use of Geographic Information Systems.
(2) In an effort to constantly refine the values, annual surveys are conducted and estimates are refined, which may lead to restatements of historical values.


Closure and Closure Planning

Our approach to mine closure begins before mining starts and carries on throughout the lifecycle of the mine. We work with the Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the area to create closure plans focused on supporting the economic and social transition after mining ends, and establishing a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem and opportunities for a range of potential post-mining land uses. For more information, see the Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation page on our website

Closure planning and closure progressed at several of our active and closed operations in 2019:

  • Duck Pond Operations continued to implement closure measures at its tailings management area and advanced studies on other mitigation measures. A revised Rehabilitation and Closure Plan was submitted to the provincial government in October 2019 
  • Coal Mountain Operations continued to implement reclamation activities and improve water management at the site 
  • Cardinal River Operations announced closure of the operation will occur in 2020 and initiated work for transition into care and maintenance
  • Pend Oreille Operations suspended its mining and concentrate production in July 2019 and the mine has transitioned to the care and maintenance phase

Post-Closure

A legacy property is a property previously explored, constructed and/or operated (usually by Teck, but not always) that is in an inactive state (no longer being explored, developed or operated), not expected to become active again and permanently closed. We track more than 100 legacy properties, where the majority are no longer owned or controlled by Teck. In total, we actively monitor 35 of these properties and carry out ongoing management actions on a subset of 28 of these sites.

 


Outlook for Biodiversity and Reclamation

Moving forward, we will work towards our strategic priority of working towards securing a net positive impact on biodiversity. We have set a new goal in biodiversity and reclamation to establish and implement plans to secure a net positive impact at all operating sites by 2025. Our focus in 2020 will be on reviewing progress by sites in implementing and refining the biodiversity management plans that each had developed by 2015, and identifying the key actions that will be required to close gaps over the next five years.


Teck

Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with business units focused on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.