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Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, negotiating agreements, procurement and community investment as well as relevant policies, procedures, management practices and systems.

GRI Indicators
204-103, 411-103, 411-1, G4-MM5, G4-MM6

Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Building relationships and trust with Indigenous Peoples is not only an important aspect of sustainable resource development, but is also an integral part of the process to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples Standards such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Sustainability Framework of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) guide companies across all industries in creating such relationships.

The majority of mining industry operations and many development projects are located within, or immediately adjacent to, Indigenous Peoples’ traditional territories. This makes it vital to establish and maintain strong relationships with Indigenous Peoples and to mitigate impacts throughout the mining life cycle.

Teck recognizes and respects the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples, and we are committed to building strong and lasting relationships. We work to achieve the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples for our activities and we support self-defined community goals that provide lasting benefits. We continue to rely on the negotiation of mutually beneficial agreements as a foundation for strong and positive relationships, and we are proud to have signed 14 new agreements with Indigenous communities in 2019, bringing the total number of agreements to 75.

Our Approach to Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Nine of our 10 operations[1] in Canada, Chile and the United States and the majority of our exploration and development projects are located within or adjacent to Indigenous Peoples’ territories. As such, we recognize that respecting the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples is fundamental to our business and to meeting our commitment to responsible resource development.

[1] Includes Cardinal River, Highland Valley Copper, Quebrada Blanca, Red Dog, Trail and our four steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley. This does not include operations in which Teck has/had an ownership interest but is not the operator, e.g., Antamina and Fort Hills.

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.

The following senior leaders are involved in implementing the management of relationships with Indigenous Peoples:

  • The 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
  • The Vice President, Community and Government Relations leads activities related to social management and responsibility, community engagement, community investment, and Indigenous affairs


Teck’s executive Indigenous Affairs Steering Committee includes our CEO and senior management representatives of our business units, our project and exploration group, and other functional groups such as human resources and legal. This committee provides oversight and guidance on major initiatives with Indigenous Peoples, including the negotiation of agreements. Our engagement with Indigenous Peoples is conducted primarily by our Communities teams at each of our operations, project and exploration sites, and is supported by our corporate Indigenous Affairs team.

Teck’s Indigenous Peoples Policy affirms our commitment to respect the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples. The policy was developed with input and guidance from Indigenous Peoples in our local communities, as well as with leading local and international groups with expertise in Indigenous and mining policy. Other policies that guide our approach to relationships with Indigenous Peoples include our Human Rights Policy, Inclusion and Diversity Policy and Expectations for Suppliers and Contractors.

We work with various local, national and international organizations and programs to support Indigenous Peoples and communities:

  • Reconciliation Canada: Engages Canadians in dialogue around the relationships among Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians
  • Indspire Awards: We sponsor the Teck Canadian Aboriginal Bursary in partnership with Indspire, helping Indigenous youth achieve their potential
  • CAPE Fund: A $50 million investment fund, of which Teck is a founding member, created to support Indigenous entrepreneurs or communities in Canada in pursuing economic opportunities
  • Champions Table: Teck is a founding member of the Champions Table, a formal and ongoing opportunity to foster dialogue between Indigenous and business leaders in British Columbia.
  • UN Women: Teck provides financial support to a UN Women initiative to create opportunities for skills development of Indigenous women in northern Chile

The foundation of our approach is recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This starts with acknowledging these rights and interests as enshrined in regional, national and international law, and extends beyond our regulatory requirements in order to meaningfully engage. Building on the foundation of recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights, Teck seeks to build strong, lasting relationships with Indigenous Peoples in the areas where we operate. Through engagement, we aim to share economic benefits, including hiring, procurement or community investment, and to ensure that we have effective channels of communication for ongoing dialogue.

Recognizing and Respecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 (ILO No. 169) and the International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 7 provide guidance for government and private sector interaction with Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is an important societal process taking place around the world that involves governments, Indigenous communities, non-Indigenous communities and the business community. While UNDRIP and ILO No. 169 provide an important framework and guidance for reconciliation, every post-colonial nation with Indigenous populations has unique circumstances that require a unique path forward. In service of an inclusive and relevant way forward, Teck continues to advance the development of its Reconciliation Action Plan.

Negotiating Agreements

Agreements create a framework for greater cooperation and clarity on topics such as consultation and engagement, the environment and land stewardship, employment and business opportunities, and typically include a financial component. Our agreements with Indigenous Peoples traditionally address the full range of our activities, from early stages of exploration through to closure. Agreements can cover short-term, seasonal work as well as long-term operations and projects.

Our approach in negotiating agreements focuses on:

  • Recognizing the importance of building trust, mutual respect, cooperation and open communication of interests and concerns
  • Improving community well-being
  • Working with Indigenous Peoples in innovative and collaborative ways
  • Reducing business risk through effective consultation and other processes
  • Increasing project and operational certainty


In order to ensure that the obligations in agreements are understood, tracked and fulfilled, Teck incorporates commitments into internal tracking tools. This helps to ensure that agreements with Indigenous Peoples continue to be integrated into our business management systems at all levels, which will result in better outcomes for both Teck and Indigenous Peoples, particularly in areas such as Indigenous procurement, employment and training. Our Annual Sustainability Performance Data spreadsheet includes a full list of our active agreements with Indigenous Peoples for projects and operations.

Although we recognize that agreements are important milestones, a strong and positive relationship is itself the true indicator of success.


Consultation is an essential component in our regulatory approval processes and project development, and helps to advance projects in a timely, cost-effective manner. As required by international conventions and typically by domestic law, many governments recognize various duties to consult with Indigenous Peoples. In certain situations, some or all aspects of consultation activities may be delegated to us.

In keeping with ICMM’s stance on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), when our activities have the potential to affect Indigenous Peoples, we are committed to working to achieve the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities throughout all stages of the mine development process. In so doing, we are able to build strong relationships through information sharing, dialogue, and responding to community concerns and interests.

Sharing Traditional Knowledge and Supporting Land Use Studies

Indigenous traditional knowledge is core to understanding and mitigating the environmental impacts of a mine — from project design, to developing and executing monitoring plans, to planning and implementing reclamation. Further, incorporating the unique knowledge about local environments that Indigenous communities can provide is important in integrating the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples into decision-making to strengthen relationships and to respect Indigenous interests and aspirations.

At every stage of the mining life cycle, we support the integration of traditional knowledge and Indigenous perspectives into project planning and development. For example, at Highland Valley Copper (HVC), work is underway with the Nlaka’pamux nation to conduct studies and develop traditional knowledge to help us better understand the impacts of our activities on Indigenous Peoples and their territories. To promote mutual understanding and to encourage a collaborative approach to decision-making, we invest in such studies.

We work to engage with Indigenous Peoples and achieve their free, prior and informed consent when proposing new or substantially modified projects. We aim to foresee any interruptions or complications to our projects by proactively integrating the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples into company decision-making throughout the mining life cycle, and by creating lasting benefits that respect their unique interests and aspirations. To ensure strong lasting relationships are initiated as early as possible, Indigenous rights holders and stakeholders are identified and engagement activities occur from exploration through to closure.

Sharing Economic Benefits

Most of our agreements with Indigenous Peoples include principles and goals related to employment, such as agreement on the principle that Indigenous citizens should have a standard of living comparable to the non-Indigenous population. In addition, agreements often include commitments to training and employment processes. Commitments in these agreements reflect the priorities of the local community and can include offering specific roles exclusively to qualified Indigenous Peoples, establishing employment processes and related key performance indicators, and supporting local apprenticeship and training programs, including internship opportunities for Indigenous students. For example, at our Red Dog Mine in Alaska, we have an operating agreement with the landowner, NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., a Regional Alaska Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of northwest Alaska. Under the agreement, NANA receives a portion of the mine’s profits, and a majority of Red Dog’s employees and contractors are NANA shareholders.

In British Columbia, in addition to resource revenue sharing established directly through agreements with Teck, the province negotiates Economic and Community Development Agreements (ECDAs). ECDAs with Indigenous Peoples are for sharing the direct mineral tax revenue on new mines and major mine expansions. Specific to Teck’s operations, the Ktunaxa Nation has entered into an ECDA regarding Teck’s Elk Valley steelmaking coal operations, and Nlaka’pamux communities have entered into an ECDA regarding Teck’s Highland Valley Copper Operations.

We also pursue company-wide approaches to increasing Indigenous employment, training and retention through the implementation of our Indigenous Peoples Policy and our sustainability strategy.

Procurement and Hiring Practices and Indigenous Peoples

Procurement with Indigenous businesses is critical in sharing the economic benefits of mining. In accordance with our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards, part of our selection of suppliers considers possible representation from Indigenous or traditionally excluded groups within each supplier’s ownership structure. Where we have formal agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we identify local Indigenous suppliers and develop processes to share information on procurement opportunities and our supplier qualification requirements. In some situations, we work directly with Indigenous suppliers to help them meet our requirements, or provide them with training and business development support. In 2019, we developed site-based tools to enhance procurement with Indigenous businesses, including a review of procurement processes and documents and developing best practice guidance.

Community Investment and Indigenous Peoples

To support our relationships with Indigenous Peoples, Teck invests in a wide range of initiatives and programs that benefit Indigenous Peoples on local, regional and national levels. This includes investments that support Indigenous language and cultural training, youth education and development, health and wellness programs, and various environmental initiatives. For example, in 2019, Teck partnered with UN Women to develop a training centre to empower Indigenous women in northern Chile through high-quality, culturally relevant, flexible training programs that focus on economic development, entrepreneurship and business management skills. Our aim is to ensure this and other community investments align with needs and opportunities identified in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples.

Cultural Awareness Training

To enhance our capacity to engage with Indigenous communities we conduct cultural awareness training for Communities teams at a number of our operations including, for example, at Red Dog Operations, where a significant number of our employees self-identify as Indigenous. Cultural awareness training provides an excellent opportunity to develop awareness and understanding of a diversity of Indigenous perspectives to inform Teck’s decision-making across the company. In the Elk Valley, the Ktunaxa Nation provides cultural awareness training to Teck teams, sharing valuable context and traditional knowledge to inform work at the site level.


There are a number of processes through which Indigenous Peoples and communities can inform us of concerns, including formal grievance mechanisms, dispute resolution clauses in agreements, and ongoing engagement. Additionally, agreements with Indigenous Peoples often establish processes to work through grievances and other areas of concern, and help to fulfill our commitment to improving community well-being in self-defined ways while gaining the broad support of the community.

Our sustainability strategy guides our long-term approach to forming relationships with Indigenous Peoples as well as all of our stakeholders and communities across Teck. In 2019, we conducted broad engagement with employees and external stakeholders to identify and prioritize global trends and issues and to set a new sustainability strategy, including new goals related to Indigenous Peoples.

Strategic Priority:

  • Collaborate with communities and Indigenous Peoples to generate economic benefits, advance reconciliation efforts and improve community well-being



  • Increase local employment and procurement opportunities by 2025 to deliver direct economic benefits to communities
  • Achieve greater representation of Indigenous Peoples across our business by 2025 by increasing employment and procurement through business development, capacity-building, education and training opportunities
  • Deliver positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for communities and Indigenous Peoples by contributing $100 million to community organizations and global initiatives, including our Zinc & Health and Copper & Health programs, by 2025


Our focus in 2020 will be on making progress towards our new goals and concluding final steps on the 2020 relationships with Indigenous Peoples goals within our previous sustainability strategy.

By the end of 2020, we will:

  • Refine our business policies and practices based on results of our social risk assessments, our work in human rights, and developments in the rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Engage with communities to identify social, economic and environmental priorities and mutually define outcomes and measures of success
  • Work with Indigenous Peoples to identify and participate in initiatives to support the self-defined goals of Indigenous communities
  • Develop metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, employment and procurement to establish baselines and drive progress


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




Items Reviewed


Mining Association of Canada: Towards Sustainable Mining assurance

  • Community of interest (COI) identification
  • Effective COI engagement and dialogue
  • COI response mechanism
  • Reporting


International Council on Mining and Metals: Sustainability Report assurance

  • Total number of significant disputes relating to land use and the customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples
  • Principle 3: Respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of employees and communities affected by our activities

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 management goals in our relationships with Indigenous Peoples on an annual basis in our sustainability report.




Our Performance in Relationships with Indigenous Peoples in 2019

Recognizing and Respecting the Interests and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

We continue to engage with Indigenous Peoples early in our planning processes and work to achieve their free, prior and informed consent when proposing new or substantially modified projects, as outlined in our Indigenous Peoples Policy

Table 10: Summary of Engagement with Indigenous Peoples in 2019


Major Activities

Cardinal River Operations

Engagement focused on the regulatory approval process for the MacKenzie Redcap extension project in early 2019. Later in the year, it was determined that this extension would not proceed and that planning would begin to close the operation in 2020. Subsequently, engagement shifted to address the implications of this decision with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Whitefish Lake First Nation, O’Chiese First Nation, Sucker Creek First Nation and Mountain Cree.

Frontier project

Initiated implementation of 14 agreements with Indigenous groups potentially impacted by the project. These groups were provided the opportunity to review and provide input into the draft conditions for project approval established through government review processes. In addition, provided significant capacity support to Indigenous groups involved in discussions with Federal and Provincial governments.

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Engagement activities focused on implementation of agreements with 17 Indigenous communities. Agreement topics discussed included Indigenous business opportunities, employment and environmental and land use interests. Collaboration also focused on developing a review framework for joint decision-making and collaboration on a project review for a major mine extension and reclamation and closure planning. Implementation of UNDRIP and reconciliation were two topics that framed the discussion at many tables.

Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project

Engagement was conducted as set out in the agreements established with Indigenous communities in relation to QB2. This engagement supported implementation of social and economic development initiatives, addressed commitments established in the QB2 Environmental Qualification Resolution and served as a forum for inquiries and updates regarding QB2 construction.

Red Dog Operations

Conducted community meetings in all 11 Indigenous communities near Red Dog Operations. Meetings were also held with Indigenous organizations and governments, which included Indigenous leadership from nearby communities, NANA Regional Corporation, the Northwest Arctic Borough and Assembly, Regional Elders Council, Village Improvement Commission and Economic Development Council. Subsistence Committee meetings were also held quarterly as well as quarterly Siñgaqmiut Working Group meetings. Significant engagement was conducted regarding exploration activities. Engagement activities included negotiations with two Indigenous governments, meetings with community leadership, helicopter tours and community meetings. 

Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

Ongoing engagement was conducted with the Ktunaxa Nation through our joint Environment and Cultural Working Groups as well as the Procurement and Employment Task Groups. Key engagement topics included mine development and water treatment projects, ongoing development of a Cultural Management Plan, sharing business opportunities and enhancing our employment-related communication. We also participated in a number of cross-cultural exchanges, including haul truck ride-alongs, a tour of mine operations for youth, community presentations, participation in a Ktunaxa Culture Camp and a May Mining Event at the Tobacco Plains community for Ktunaxa and other regional Indigenous learners.

Trail Operations

Focused on community investment and engagement with Circle of Indigenous Nations Society (COINS) and Kootenay South Metis Society. We also held an engagement session (which is an annual session) with COINS as general outreach and hosted Ktunaxa Economic Development members at Trail Operations to discuss potential opportunities.

Incidents and Significant Disputes

Of the three total significant community disputes reported in 2019, there were two significant disputes for Teck involving Indigenous Peoples in 2019.

Cultural Awareness Training

We regularly deliver training on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and cultural awareness for exploration, operations and management staff. In 2019, approximately 1,150 people at our sites attended cultural awareness training, which supports understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity and encourages maintaining a safe and respectful work environment in alignment with Teck’s culture, values and beliefs.

Action on Reconciliation

Teck is committed to playing a role in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, particularly in Canada and continues to work in partnership with Reconciliation Canada to support their vision of revitalizing the relationships among Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians. As part of this effort in British Columbia, Teck continues to support the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on economic reconciliation between the Business Council of British Columbia and the BC Assembly of First Nations. Teck’s Indigenous Peoples Policy will also continue to provide a framework for our work with Indigenous Peoples. In addition, we are continuing to proactively engage in government-led initiatives to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples in several jurisdictions through their participation in mining-related activities.

Negotiating and Implementing Agreements

In 2019, there were 75 active agreements in place with Indigenous Peoples, including 14 new agreements, ranging from exploration agreements to impact benefit agreements.1 For a full list of our active agreements with Indigenous Peoples for projects and operations, see our 2019 Sustainability Performance Data spreadsheet.  

1 An agreement typically made with Aboriginal or Indigenous Peoples that outlines the potential impacts of a project, the commitment and responsibilities to mitigate these impacts and the economic and other benefits that will be shared with the Aboriginal or Indigenous party.

Sharing Economic Benefits

Employment is one way in which local communities can benefit from our operations and we work with local Indigenous communities to increase the number of Indigenous Peoples employed at Teck. As part of our ongoing efforts to improve our performance with regard to Indigenous employment, we have collected data on the number of applicants for employment who self-identify as Indigenous. In 2019, we had a total of 7,564 applicants across the company who self-identified as Indigenous, which represents 8% of the total applicants received. In 2019, there were 108 Indigenous new hires at Red Dog Operations, which represents 66% of the total new hires at Red Dog and 302 employees were NANA shareholders, representing 57% of the total number of employees at Red Dog Operations.

We continue to work on our data-collection and analysis processes in order to support efforts towards strengthening our relationships with Indigenous Communities by ensuring we are effectively sharing the benefits of mining including employment and procurement opportunities.

Procurement from Indigenous Suppliers

In 2019, our operations spent approximately $225 million with suppliers who self-identified as Indigenous; this represents a small increase compared to 2018. In 2019, 48% ($155 million) of spending at Red Dog Operations was with Indigenous suppliers — where Indigenous procurement is one of the cornerstones of our operating agreement with NANA Regional Corporation.

Figure 6: Procurement Spend on Suppliers Who Self-Identified as Indigenous

Procurement with Indigenous businesses is critical in sharing the economic benefits of mining. Many of our agreements with Indigenous Peoples contain commitments to support our shared interest in ensuring Indigenous businesses are able to provide goods and services to our sites at reasonable cost. In 2019, we developed site-based tools to enhance procurement with Indigenous businesses, including a review of procurement processes and documents and developing best practice guidance.

Community Investment Focused on Indigenous Peoples

In 2019, $2.4 million of our community investment went towards Indigenous-specific investments, compared to $2.9 million in 2018. A noteworthy investment in this area was our support for Noatak Hasty Crew, which is a volunteer emergency first responder team based in the remote village of Noatak, Alaska.


Outlook for our Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

As we move forward with the implementation of our existing agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we will continue to engage early and effectively at all stages of the mining life cycle. We will advance Teck’s actions for reconciliation, in support of working with Indigenous Peoples, to identify and execute initiatives and sustainable development projects that support the self-defined goals of their communities. In 2020, we will continue to focus on the development and implementation of agreements with Indigenous Peoples impacted by our sites. We will also continue to develop and evolve our approaches to consultation, as legislative initiatives in Canada and elsewhere change and advance our work on performance management and improve our baseline indicators to track the performance of our commitments as outlined in agreements.

Moving forward, we will work towards our strategic priority of collaborating with communities and Indigenous Peoples to generate economic benefits, advance reconciliation efforts and improve community well-being. We have set new goals related to Indigenous Peoples, which include achieving greater representation of Indigenous Peoples across our business by 2025 by increasing employment and procurement through business development, capacity-building, education and training opportunities. We will also deliver positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for communities and Indigenous Peoples by contributing $100 million to community organizations and global initiatives, including our Zinc & Health and Copper & Health programs, by 2025. Our focus in 2020 will be on concluding the final steps of our 2020 goals within our previous sustainability strategy, and on making progress towards achieving our new goals.


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.