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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

Protecting and enhancing biodiversity, which is the abundance and variety of living organisms and ecosystems in nature, is integral to global sustainability. Many of the world’s ecosystems are being altered, and loss of biodiversity is a concern. The United Nations has set government and business on a path towards addressing biodiversity on a global scale in their Sustainable Development Goal 15 on sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and halting biodiversity loss.

Mining activities have the potential to impact biodiversity and to alter ecosystems in a significant and highly visible way. Direct impacts can result from any mining activity that involves land disturbance or discharges to waterbodies or the air. Indirect impacts can result from social or environmental changes that are induced by mining operations, particularly when mining opens up an area for other economic activities and increased habitation. In cases where mines are developed in landscapes where other pressures on biodiversity are present, the potential for cumulative impacts must also be considered.

Regulatory requirements are changing in response to widening recognition of these impacts on biodiversity. This includes requirements to tailor reclamation with a focus on wildlife and plants of greatest conservation concern, and requirements to implement biodiversity offsets to mitigate impacts that cannot be fully addressed through avoidance, minimization and rehabilitation. Since 2003, the International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) has had a world-leading Position Statement on respecting biodiversity. Therefore, in accordance with the statement, Teck does not explore or mine in World Heritage sites and respects all legally designated protected areas.

All of our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value, including arid and arctic areas, boreal forests and deserts. Communities near our operations depend on the land, plants and animals around them for their quality of life, livelihoods and leisure activities. Indigenous Peoples rely on the land to maintain traditional ways of life. 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. Effectively managing biodiversity is integral to meeting regulatory and permit requirements and to maintaining community support for our activities.

Teck's Appoach to Biodiversity and Reclamation

Our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value14, including temperate and arctic areas, boreal forests and deserts. Effectively managing biodiversity and reclamation is a part of our commitment to responsible resource development, and integral to meeting regulatory requirements and maintaining 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 both individual species and 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.

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


(14) 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 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, Environmental Legacies is responsible for leading the assessment and management of legacy environmental issues, sites and facilities as well as the creation of new, positive legacies in biodiversity conservation and reclamation

 

Our Code of Sustainable Conduct describes how we will integrate biodiversity conservation considerations through all stages of business and production activities and outlines our commitment to continually improve our environmental practices and ensure they are fully integrated into each of our activities. Teck’s HSEC Management Standards include guidance on biodiversity management. These management standards, the associated guidance documents, and our adherence to them, are overseen by the Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors.

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
     
  • fRI Research: Teck has been a long-time and continued partner with fRI Research, a non-profit organization focused on sustainable land and resource management, including their Grizzly Bear Program
     
  • Vancouver Aquarium: Our partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium includes a $12.5 million investment to support expansion of their facility and their research, conservation and education programs related to water and aquatic life
     
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada: A leading national land conservation organization; our partnership includes collaboration on conservation projects and financial support from time to time
     
  • 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 III 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 have used this information as an input during the development of biodiversity management plans for each operation. A summary of the results of the proximity analysis, including those prioritized by international conservation initiatives such as Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Key Biodiversity Areas, and World Wide Fund for Nature’s Global 200 Priority Ecoregions is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: 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

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

1

 

IUCN Category V

 

1

Relincho

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 achieve 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. This approach is guided by the following principles:

  • 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. 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 other parties’ past, present and reasonably foreseeable future activities. 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 analyses, and create work plans. We identify risks, such as 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.

Figure 1: 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. We have also implemented research programs to help ensure that we adopt best practices. Our reclamation activities focus on conserving biodiversity and 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 and have created an internal community of practice to share this knowledge across our operations. We have won awards for our reclamation practices at numerous operations, including all of our steelmaking coal operations and Highland Valley Copper Operations, and our legacy properties, including Pinchi Lake, Sä Dena Hes, Sullivan and McCracken.

For more information about reclamation, see the Responsible Mine Closure & 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. Teck has a long and proven record of accomplishment in this regard.

Table 2: Biodiversity and Reclamation Internal and External Audits

Type

Organization

Items Audited

External

Mining Association of Canada: Towards Sustainable Mining audit

Corporate biodiversity conservation policy, accountability and communications

Facility-level biodiversity conservation planning and implementation

External

International Council on Mining and Metals: Sustainability Report assurance

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

Total land disturbed and yet to be rehabilitated (ha)

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 audits, applicable management teams use the results to inform future actions and Teck’s five-year planning process.

Our Performance in Biodiversity and Reclamation in 2017

Working to Achieve a Net Positive Impact

As part of our work to achieve our vision of having a net positive impact on biodiversity, we continued to implement biodiversity management plans at our operations in 2017, while also operating in accordance with the ICMM Mining and Protected Areas Position Statement. Per the position statement, we do not explore or mine in protected areas, including those protected by national or regional law or designated by international organizations such as the 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.

Table 30: Key Activities and Accomplishments in Biodiversity in 2017

Operation

Performance Highlight

Cardinal River Operations

Completed reclamation and applied for certification to enable an area of the former Luscar mine that includes Sphinx Lake to be returned to the Province of Alberta. Sphinx Lake was constructed by filling a closed pit with rock and water and creating an inlet channel and outlet, so that the lake and stream now provide valuable trout habitat.

Carmen de Andacollo Operations

Progressed the identification and assessment of potential biodiversity offsets and continued maintenance of the Runco Project established in 2014.

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Supported the creation of a Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation at Thompson Rivers University by contributing funding for a new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Industrial Research Chair position. Conducted a workshop with Indigenous communities of interest, and completed a preliminary and high-level review of potential biodiversity offsets.

Quebrada Blanca Operations

Conducted studies on wildcat ecology and native plant propagation. Made significant progress in the evaluation of potential biodiversity offset opportunities.

Red Dog Operations

The Red Dog port facility was recognized as an Outstanding Partner by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which recognizes external partners who have made significant contributions to the conservation of natural resources in Alaska. This award was a result of the facility’s support for the Chukchi Sea polar bear fieldwork program.

Steelmaking Coal Operations in the Elk Valley

Installed a network of wildlife cameras to collect and analyze data on wildlife movement patterns in an effort to minimize disturbance and inform future reclamation activities.

Finalized and began using a vegetation quality monitoring framework for measuring reclamation success in a manner that allows comparison against local biodiversity/ecosystem benchmarks and objectives.

Trail Operations

Continued to develop the framework for the Lower Columbia Ecosystem Management Program with input from the regional steering committee of communities of interest. This program represents the terrestrial biodiversity management program for Trail, which is aimed at addressing residual impacts of historical smelter emissions on habitats. The first detailed plan for an ecosystem restoration pilot project was developed.

 
Reclamation

In 2017, at our Highland Valley Copper Operations, we established new reclamation trials to test methods for rehabilitating lands in line with the end land use objectives determined in 2016, such as shifting our targets from grasslands to forests. At our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley, we successfully employed new site preparation techniques and reclamation seed mixes aimed to more closely align with the original ecosystems.

Area Reclaimed and Disturbed

At the end of 2017, Teck had a total footprint of 29,800 hectares (ha), of which 23,475 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 6,325 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 31: Area Reclaimed and Disturbed (1),(2)

 

2017

2016

2015

2014

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

30

147

199

77

Area disturbed during the current year (ha)

388

421

508

908

Area of land yet to be reclaimed (ha)

23,477

22,917

22,708

22,414

Total area of land reclaimed (ha)

6,325

6,520

6,421

6,438

Total footprint (ha)

29,803

29,437

29,201

28,852

(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 based off of estimates stemming from the use of Geographic Information Systems. In an effort to constantly refine the values, annual surveys are conducted and estimates are refined, which may lead to restatements of historical values.
(2) This data only applies to active operations, with the exception of Duck Pond Operations, which closed in June 2015.


Closure and Closure Planning

Closure planning and closure progressed at several of our active and closed operations in 2017:

  • Duck Pond Operations, which closed in 2015, continued to execute the approved closure plan. Following the implementation of the plan, the property will begin transitioning from a property in active closure to a legacy property, possibly in 2018.
  • Coal Mountain Operations, which is scheduled for closure in the second quarter of 2018, developed a detailed closure plan after extensive consultation with stakeholders; the plan has been approved by the provincial government. We established the Coal Mountain Operations Closure Task Group as a subcommittee of a Community of Interest Advisory Initiative to address the social aspects and risks associated with mine closure, and to facilitate ongoing engagement between Teck and local communities. We involved a diverse selection of stakeholders who provide input into both the process of closure and the decisions related to end land use.
  • Cardinal River Operations began the process of developing a detailed closure plan, as the operation is scheduled to reach the end of its current mine life in 2019.
  • Highland Valley Copper (HVC) Operations completed an updated closure plan in late 2016, which was circulated for stakeholder review and then submitted to the B.C. Government in 2017. Reserves and resources at HVC are projected to support mining at current planned production rates until 2028.

 
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 our legacy properties database. In 2017, we updated our legacy properties management system to further evaluate the current portfolio of legacy properties. The update included a greater focus on Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) risks that are of potential consequence and concern to communities, Indigenous Peoples, and regulators. In total, we actively monitor 38 of these properties, and carry out ongoing management actions on a subset of 32 of these sites, including the Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., Louvicourt in Quebec, Pine Point in the Northwest Territories, the Warm Springs phosphate complex in Montana, and the Pillara mine in Western Australia.

Outlook for Biodiversity

In 2018, we will continue to work towards reaching our biodiversity goals set for 2020, including advancing integration of biodiversity into the exploration, construction and closure stages of the mining life cycle. We will also continue to implement, improve and enhance the biodiversity management plans at all operations. Our steelmaking coal operations will continue their transition to an ecosystem-based approach to site preparation and reclamation planning, monitoring the resulting vegetation quality and wildlife use patterns. Trail Operations will conduct a pilot in ecosystem restoration under the Lower Columbia Ecosystem Monitoring Program. Highland Valley Copper Operations will conduct several trials of reclamation techniques to enable the evaluation of new sources of organic amendments and planting prescriptions aimed at achieving the updated, ecosystem-based land use objectives.

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