We work to be a leader in water stewardship by moving beyond compliance and towards collaborative water management practices that focus on sustaining and restoring water resources. Our approach to water management is based on three pillars: protecting water quality, improving water use efficiency and engaging collaboratively within our watersheds.
Protecting Water Quality
A key component to how we manage water quality at each operation is ensuring compliance with applicable standards, regulations and permits. The other key component is undertaking aquatic life and ecosystem assessments that use scientifically rigorous evaluations and projections for ecosystem health.
Our practices include frequent monitoring of existing and reference conditions, and planning for future conditions, so that we can manage the risks and realize the opportunities related to water. As part of our practices, we report on water quality measurements and trends to relevant authorities, and adaptively manage our activities.
Each location has specific water considerations that depend on the local context. For example, we actively manage water quality in the Elk Valley region of British Columbia, where Teck operates four steelmaking coal operations, and we are implementing a groundwater remediation plan at our Trail Operations in British Columbia. We also monitor and report on water quality and aquatic health in the Elk Valley. Making this information broadly available helps advance community knowledge and understanding, and can accelerate the pace of scientific progress and innovation. Our monitoring activities include regular water quality monitoring of surface and groundwater, and monitoring of aquatic health through programs such as Regional Aquatic Effects Monitoring and Local Aquatic Effects Monitoring. The results are typically reported annually by professional scientists and reviewed by external experts. For example, in the Elk Valley, an Environmental Monitoring Committee was established to provide science-based and Ktunaxa traditional knowledge advice and input to Teck and regulators relative to our monitoring programs.
Improving Water Use Efficiency
We continuously work on optimizing our water use, thereby minimizing our consumption of fresh water. We focus on reducing our fresh water intake and maximizing the reuse of water to increase water availability for others near our operations in water-scarce regions.
Each operation maintains a Water Management Plan (WMP). Annually, we update WMPs in conjunction with the update of each operation’s water balance. The plans describe how the operation fits into the local watershed and its associated regulatory context. WMPs also describe how we manage water now and in the future, in order to:
- Contribute to meeting our water goals
- Provide direction and strategies to address water management risks and challenges
- Establish how water management infrastructure performance will be monitored and reviewed
Site-wide water balances at each operation provide an understanding of water inputs, consumption, and reuse/recycle and discharge volumes at each operation. We use water balances as a decision-making tool to assess water management alternatives, to evaluate an operation’s water management performance and to provide water data for our company-wide reporting.
We monitor and model local groundwater resources to determine rates of drawdown and ensure long-term protection of these water sources. Forecasts of future availability and use are developed to guide decision-making and to ensure the aquifers are protected for the benefit of local water users in the future.
Water Stewardship in Water-Stressed Regions
Our Carmen de Andacollo and Quebrada Blanca operations are located in regions where water is scarce. Viable water use and supply options are considered when planning projects and assessing potential expansions or extensions. A broad range of scenarios is developed and assessed, including, for example, the use of desalinated water at our Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project.
At Carmen de Andacollo Operations, Teck is a member of the Pan de Azúcar Mesa Hidrica, a regional group of stakeholders for the management of common water issues. Teck was also central to the creation of the Culcatan Mesa Hidrica, which are multi-stakeholder forums to manage water in water-stressed areas.
Engaging Collaboratively Within Our Watersheds
Access to clean and sufficient water by others in the watersheds where we operate is important to us and to our stakeholders. When implementing our water management practices, we consider and engage with other water users in the watersheds to promote water stewardship.
As part of this process, we are incorporating the approach defined in ICMM’s guide to catchment-based water management to identify, evaluate and respond to water-related risks and opportunities in our watersheds. One example of a watershed-based approach is in the Elk Valley, where four of our steelmaking coal operations are located, and where we actively engage stakeholders in the implementation of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan.