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Environmental Management

Our environmental management performance; environmental compliance; significant environmental incidents; our involvement in environmental litigation, fines and penalties.

GRI Indicators

306-2, 307-1

Environmental Management

The health of land and water ecosystems around the world is increasingly at risk, making environmental stewardship paramount.1 Responsible environmental management creates value for the communities near mining operations as well as for our stakeholders and shareholders. Meeting or exceeding environmental standards contributes to support for mining, for recruitment and retention of employees and, on the global stage, helps to meet the objectives of several UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Due to the physical disturbance of the land, generation of air- and water-based emissions, use of resources and associated production processes, mining has the potential to adversely impact the environment. Many of these impacts can be mitigated or avoided through proper management and recognition of the interrelated nature of environmental issues, the cumulative nature of many environmental impacts and the need to look at impacts across the mining life cycle and value chain.

We work in highly regulated jurisdictions with stringent and rigorously applied environmental legislation, which also makes environmental management a key compliance issue. Changes in environmental laws may have a material effect on our operations, both in terms of effort required to receive permits and in terms of investments required to achieve and maintain compliance.

In 2019, we continued to make progress in several aspects of environmental management, including Water Stewardship, Climate Change and Energy Use, Biodiversity and Reclamation, Air Quality and in Waste Management. We met our target of having zero significant environmental incidents in 2019.

 
1 Global Environment Outlook 6. United Nations Environment Programme. 2019 (https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/global-environment-outlook-6)

Our Approach to Environmental Management

Due to the physical disturbance of the land, generation of air- and water-based emissions, use of resources, and associated production processes, mining has the potential to adversely impact the environment. Many of these impacts can be mitigated or avoided through proper management and recognition of the interrelated nature of environmental issues, the cumulative nature of many environmental impacts, and the need to look at impacts across the mining life cycle and value chain.

We work in highly regulated jurisdictions with stringent and rigorously applied environmental legislation, which also makes environmental management a key compliance issue. Changes in environmental laws may have a material effect on our operations, both in terms of effort required to receive permits and investments required to achieve and maintain compliance.

Responsible environmental management creates value for the communities near mining operations as well as for our stakeholders and shareholders. Meeting or exceeding environmental standards contributes to support for mining, recruitment and retention of employees, and long-term sustainability for communities and ecosystems. 

The Board of Directors, through its Safety and Sustainability Committee, broadly oversees health, safety, environment and community policies, systems, performance and auditing, including implementation of our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards. Our activities associated with environmental management are reported to the Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board and/or to our HSEC Risk Management Committee.

The following senior leaders are involved in implementing responsible environmental management:

  • The Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs reports directly to the President and CEO and is responsible for sustainability, health and safety, environment, community, and Indigenous affairs

 

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 including tailings, biodiversity, water, air and energy

Our HSEC Management Standards and our environmental audit program help drive continual improvement and assessment of compliance with environmental regulations. The standards provide a consistent and systematic methodology for the identification and effective management of HSEC issues and risks, and provide a platform to support continual improvement in HSEC programs and performance. The standards are supported by guidance documents specific to technical areas such as management and performance around tailings, water, biodiversity and a number of other key technical areas. The Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board oversees these management standards and the associated guidance documents, and our adherence to them.

Teck is a member of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). As a member of MAC and ICMM, we are committed to responsible mining and adhere to the guiding principles of the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) framework and the ICMM Principles for Sustainable Development and associated performance expectations.

We are committed to conducting regular audits of the environmental compliance of our sites. We develop corrective action plans based on findings, and we regularly assess the implementation of these plans. We have set a target to have zero significant environmental incidents each year. We continually review our facilities and procedures, and are committed to maintaining the highest standard of safety and environmental protection, including standards set by MAC and ICMM.

Since 2009, we have worked towards certification of environmental management systems to conform to the internationally recognized ISO 14001 standard. ISO 14001 certification requires internal and external verification through third-party audits conducted by accredited certification service providers. As of 2020, nine of our 10 operations have attained and maintained certification.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management-Related Certification

Operation

Scope of Certification

Cardinal River

Design, mining, processing, transporting and marketing of metallurgical and thermal coal.

Elkview

All mining and processing activities within an operation's permitted mining boundary, as influenced and/or managed by top management and support services. The operation's permitted mining boundary is described in the Mines Act C Permit.

Fording River

All mining and processing activities within an operation's permitted mining boundary, as influenced and/or managed by the site’s top management and support services. The operation's permitted mining boundary is described in the Mines Act C Permit.

Greenhills

All mining processing and supporting activities within Greenhills Operations’ permitted mining boundary, as influenced and/or managed by Greenhills' top management. The operation's permitted mining boundary is described in the Mines Act C Permit.

Line Creek

The scope of the Environmental Management System applies to all mining and processing activities within an operation's permitted mining boundary, influenced and/or managed by the site’s top management and support services. The operation's permitted mining boundary is described in the Mines Act C Permit.

Carmen de Andacollo

Crushing, grinding, flotation, thickening, and tailings deposit, filtering concentrate thickening, stacking, leaching, solvent extraction, mine maintenance, drilling and blasting, loading and transportation and other activities performed at the mining site Teck Carmen de Andacollo (CDA), Coquimbo Region.

Highland Valley Copper

An open pit mining operation producing copper and molybdenum mineral concentrates utilizing conventional grinding and flotation techniques. The mine facilities are defined by the No Shooting Boundary that surrounds the operation, with the addition of off-site exploration and drilling activities and the dams on Mamit, Laura and Jim Black lakes and the Spatsum pumphouse on the Thompson River.

Red Dog

Mining and milling of zinc and lead ore; operation of support

facilities, including power generation, potable water plants,

landfills, airport and wastewater treatment facilities; over-the-road

haulage and storage of zinc and lead concentrates, fuel and freight;

operation of port facility with loading/unloading of fuel, freight

and concentrates, excluding barge operations.

Trail

Trail Operations’ metallurgical facilities, including the production storage and recycling of metals, chemical and specialty products, and related administrative functions at the Tadanac and Warfield sites.

 

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 environmental management goals on an annual basis in our sustainability report.

Our Performance in Environmental Management in 2019

Significant Environmental Incidents

We assess the severity of environmental incidents based on its potential environmental, safety, community, reputational and financial impacts. Based on our incident severity criteria there were no significant environmental incidents or significant spills in 2019. As noted in the Water Stewardship section, we are continuing to implement the water quality management measures under the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP). For information on our management of water quality in the Elk Valley, see our website.

Environmental Litigation

Environmental litigation regarding the Upper Columbia River and involving the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians continues. For more information, see our 2019 Annual Information Form.

Charges, Fines and Penalties Related to Environmental Performance

In February 2019, Teck was ordered by the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to pay an Administrative Penalty of $37,500, in relation to permit exceedance of permit limits at our Elkview Operations coal breaker stack and failure to maintain authorized works since 2015.

In August 2019, Teck was issued a CDN$1.6 million fine by Chile’s environmental regulator, for historical deficiencies from 2008 to 2017 at Quebrada Blanca Operations in water infrastructure maintenance, elevated levels of electrical conductivity and sulphides in groundwater, and conducting environmental monitoring tests without properly certified personnel. Teck has lodged a submission seeking to have the fine reduced.

During the third quarter of 2018, Teck received notice from Canadian federal prosecutors of potential charges under the Fisheries Act in connection with discharges of selenium and calcite from steelmaking coal mines in the Elk Valley. Since 2014, compliance limits and site performance objectives for selenium and other constituents, as well as requirements to address calcite, in surface water throughout the Elk Valley and in the Koocanusa Reservoir have been established under a regional permit issued by the provincial government, which references the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan. If federal charges are laid, potential penalties may include fines as well as orders with respect to operational matters. We expect that discussions with respect to the draft charges will continue into 2020.


Outlook for Environmental Management

In 2020, we will continue working to improve our environmental performance and we will continue maintaining the highest standards for environmental management. This includes implementing the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan by advancing a number of innovative measures and advancing our work in a range of other environmental areas, including energy and climate change, biodiversity, air quality and waste management.


Teck

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