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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. Corporations, governments and civil society alike recognize this challenge, and many are working together to find innovative new solutions for biodiversity protection. This action 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 have direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity and natural resources. These impacts can include land or wildlife disturbances, and discharges to waterbodies or air. Regulatory requirements are becoming increasingly stringent 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 to implement biodiversity offsets to mitigate impacts that cannot be fully addressed through avoidance, minimization and rehabilitation.

We are challenging ourselves to achieve a vision of having a net positive impact on biodiversity. We also have a firm commitment, in accordance with the International Council on Mining and Minerals’ (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.

All of our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value, including temperate and arctic areas, montane forests, and deserts. 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. At the end of 2018, Teck had a total footprint of 30,619 hectares (ha), of which 24,450 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 6,169 ha have been reclaimed.

Our Approach to Biodiversity and Reclamation

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 and reclamation.

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 for 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. 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. 
     
  • fRI Research: Teck has been a long-time and continuous 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: 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 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 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 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, prior to the start of mining activities.

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. 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 analyses and create workplans. 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.

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. 

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 biodiversity and reclamation at our operations.

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

By 2030, we will:

  • Achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity in regions where we operate through environmental management, reclamation and conservation

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 (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 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 2018

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 2018, while also operating in accordance with the ICMM Mining and Protected Areas Position Statement.

In accordance with ICMM, we respect legally designated protected areas (including International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category Ia, Ib, II, III or IV protected areas), and ensure that any new operations or changes to existing operations are not incompatible with the value for which they were designated. We do not explore or mine in World Heritage properties. 

Table 35: Key Activities and Accomplishments in Biodiversity and Reclamation in 2018

Operation

Performance Highlight

Cardinal River Operations

Cardinal River continued to participate in regional research partnerships involving the Foothills Research Institute (fRI), which included monitoring grizzly bear populations and assessing how cougars are using the site’s reclaimed landscape as habitat. 

Carmen de Andacollo Operations

Biodiversity monitoring continued at Carmen de Andacollo’s El Runco conservation area, which was visited by more than 400 community members in 2018. In addition, new sites have been identified as possible future biodiversity conservation areas.

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Highland Valley Copper initiated multiple research projects in 2018 under Thompson Rivers University’s Centre for Ecosystem Reclamation, on the topics of biodiversity and soil amendments.

Quebrada Blanca Operations

A series of measures designed to protect biodiversity are currently being incorporated into Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project design. These include the capture and relocation of low- and medium-mobility wildlife species such as reptiles and micro-mammals.

Red Dog Operations

A comprehensive site-wide study using a multi-increment sampling method was conducted to determine if there have been reductions in cadmium, lead and zinc concentrations in moss plants due to recent site improvements in fugitive dust management. 

Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

Operations in the Elk Valley began incorporating geomorphic landform design in mine closure planning/reclamation, which works to make the post-closure mining landscape better mimic natural landforms, and helps with water management, slope stability, aesthetic appeal and habitat values. Additionally, four new species management plans for plants and four new plans for wildlife were developed; these included whitebark pine and the American badger.

Trail Operations

Permanent photo monitoring locations were established on Trail’s Gold Island/Shoreacres Conservation Area, East Rossland Conservation Area and Beaver Creek Conservation Area to provide baseline data and allow for assessment of conservation value over time. 

 

Area Reclaimed and Disturbed 

At the end of 2018, Teck had a total footprint of 30,619 hectares (ha), of which 24,450 ha are yet to be reclaimed and 6,169 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 36: Area Reclaimed and Disturbed (1),(2)

 

2018

2017

2016

2015

Area reclaimed during the current year (ha)

31

30

147

199

Area disturbed during the current year (ha)

1,018

388

421

508

Area of land yet to be reclaimed (ha)

24,450

23,477

22,917

22,708

Total area of land reclaimed (ha)

6,169

6,325

6,520

6,421

Total footprint (ha)

30,619

29,803

29,437

29,201

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. 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 2018:

  • 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.

  • Coal Mountain Operations continued community engagement with respect to the Coal Mountain Closure Project and the operation’s processing plant continued to be utilized during the year. See this case study for further information on our community engagement closure activities. 

  • Cardinal River Operations continued the process of developing a detailed closure plan, as the operation is scheduled to reach the end of its current mine life in 2019.

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 total, we actively monitor 38 of these properties, and carry out ongoing management actions on a subset of 32 of these sites.

 

Outlook for Biodiversity and Reclamation

In 2019, we will continue to work towards achieving our vision of having a net positive impact on biodiversity, 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. For example, 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. 

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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.