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Community Engagement

Local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs; actual and potential impacts on local communities; disputes related to land or resource use of local communities; grievance mechanisms.

GRI Indicators
102-34, 201-103, 203-103, 203-1, 205-1, 413-103, 413-1, G4-MM6, G4-MM7

Why was Community Engagement a Material Topic in 2016?

While industrial activity typically brings economic growth and opportunity to communities, their expectations are growing with respect to business involvement in addressing global challenges such as climate change and access to water. Communities increasingly question business activities and, at times, withhold support. In addition, technology and connectivity are reshaping how communities engage with the broader world, which creates new risks and opportunities. Through technology, communities can readily organize and respond to business activities, and they are often faster than government or civil society in effecting change. As such, it is increasingly important that businesses and communities work closely together to maximize the benefits of industrial development while also minimizing the actual or perceived impacts.  

While community engagement can be considered a normal part of doing business for mining companies, the importance of building trust and support for projects and operations continues to increase and evolve. Conflicting interests between communities and companies can result in project delays, operational disruption and increased costs.

Communities may be affected by the potential environmental and social impacts of mining such as competition for water and energy, emissions to air, and stress on public services. At the same time, there can be significant opportunities, such as local economic benefits, when these impacts are understood and well managed in collaboration with communities. Relationships that are built upon trust, transparency and mutual benefits are fundamental for mining companies to secure access to land during exploration and to attain regulatory approvals throughout the mining life cycle.  

In recognition of these risks and opportunities, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) established stakeholder engagement as one of their 10 Principles. ICMM members are expected to proactively engage key stakeholders on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in an open and transparent manner.

Maintaining trust and conducting effective community engagement is a critical component of managing and mitigating impacts on communities and, ultimately, maintaining social licence to operate, which was ranked by Ernst & Young as one of the top business risks facing the mining and metals sector in 2016/17.  

Many of our operations are located immediately adjacent to local communities, such as our Carmen de Andacollo Operations, Trail Operations and Elkview Operations, which are located next to Andacollo, Trail and Sparwood, respectively. Even our operations that are located a significant distance from communities, such as Red Dog Operations in the northwest Arctic, have the potential to both positively and negatively impact communities across the region. While specific opportunities and concerns about the impacts of our activities vary among communities in the areas where we operate, one of the common expectations of communities is meaningful engagement throughout the mining life cycle.

Community engagement continued to be a strategic business priority across all of our operations in 2016. Engagement was focused on exploring and advancing shared benefit opportunities as well as managing and mitigating potential impacts on the environment and on human health and, in particular, issues related to air, water, tailings and biodiversity. Due to persistent challenging market conditions in the mining industry, engagement was also focused on managing and mitigating impacts on communities and local economies.

Performance Highlights


responses received through our feedback mechanism

Our Stories

  • Safer Sanitation: the Kivalina Biochar Reactor
  • Growing Opportunities: Twin Sisters Native Plants Nursery
  • Finding Common Ground: Collaborating with Local Communities for Quebrada Blanca Phase 2
  • Promoting Use of Antimicrobial Copper in Health Care
  • Supporting SDG 8: Creating Opportunities in Alaska’s Northwest Arctic
  • Engaging Communities to Prepare for Closure of Coal Mountain Operations
  • Fort McKay Métis & Teck Sign Frontier Project Participation Agreement
  • Fort Chipewyan Métis & Teck Sign Frontier Project Participation Agreement
  • Reclamation Example:  From a Tailings Pond to a Trout Pond
  • Reclamation Example: Rehabilitating Historic Sites
  • Reclamation Example: Making a Mine Pit into an Aquatic Habitat
  • The Road to Safer Highways
  • Closure Example: Preparing for Life After the Sullivan Mine
  • Closure Example: Collaborating with Indigenous Peoples at Sä Dena Hes
  • Closure Example: Planning for Closure at Duck Pond
  • Closure Example: Cooperative Planning for Land Uses After Mining
  • In Conversation – Ktunaxa Nation Council and Teck discuss Impact Management and Benefits Agreement
  • Reducing Healthcare Acquired Infection Rates at Hospitals with Antimicrobial Copper
  • Helping Chilean Communities Rebuild After Floods
  • Collaborative Land Use Planning at Highland Valley Copper
  • Collaborating on Closure Planning at Duck Pond Operations
  • Studying Traditional Plant use at Highland Valley Copper
  • Supporting Indigenous Students in Canada
  • Engaging with Communities in Turkey
  • Partnering to Create Value
  • Our Targets and Commitments

    Our goal is to engage with communities to identify social, economic and environmental priorities, and to mutually define outcomes and measures of success.

    In particular, we are focused on:

    • Refining 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 by 2020
    • Engaging with communities to identify social, economic and environmental priorities and to mutually define outcomes and measures of success by 2020
    • Fully integrating social risk and opportunity, human rights, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples into how we do business and our individual actions and behaviours by 2030
    • Creating lasting mutual benefits through collaboration on social, economic and environmental initiatives by 2030

    How Does Teck Manage Community Engagement?

    At Teck, we begin engagement with communities at the earliest phase of the mining life cycle. We work to engage communities and continuously demonstrate our ability to effectively manage environmental and social impacts while providing opportunities and mutually defined benefits. Engagement to develop an understanding and earn early support for our activities has the potential to reduce costs, increase the predictability of project development timelines and budgets, and generally strengthen long-term relationships with COIs. As such, at every operation and project(1), engagement is completed with the intention of both sharing information from our sites and gathering input from our COIs.

    (1) This includes 100% of Teck operations and projects.

    Teck’s HSEC Management Standards require sites to regularly engage with, and put in place mechanisms to receive feedback from, COIs as a means to manage key social risks, respond to public concerns, effectively manage long-term relationships and support ongoing decision-making.   

    Teck’s SMART framework is supported by tools/guides, ongoing training and subject-matter expert support that examines social risks and management from a number of approaches:

    • Thematic approaches: viewing social management through the lens of relevant themes throughout the mining life cycle; these themes include human rights, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, inclusion and diversity, and vulnerable groups
    • Process approaches: providing direction on understanding and managing the social impacts of our activities as a management system and ongoing process through a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to drive continual improvement
    • Phase-specific approaches: pursuing thematic and process activities specific to a phase in the mining life cycle, such as during the exploration or closure stage.

    Figure 16: Managing Community Engagement

    We have Community teams at all our operations who are focused on using these tools to build and strengthen trust-based relationships with our local COIs through engagement. At our exploration and development projects, exploration geologists and project managers are provided with the tools and training they need to effectively and appropriately engage with local COIs through all stages of their activities. These exploration and development personnel are supported by country-based community specialists. Teck’s corporate community team provides guidance on implementing the SMART framework and reviews the social performance of our community interactions.

    Implementing this framework is an ongoing exercise of continual improvement within Teck. In 2016, we completed training of our global exploration teams in the updated SMART framework. Our corporate subject matter experts continued to provide guidance and training to operations on the social risk assessment process to support improved alignment with our management standards.

    Table 61: Implementing Social Management Activities

    Management Actions

    Implementation Detail


    Understand the

    broad socio-economic context, undertake a social risk assessment, and plan risk management activities

    We examine relevant socio-economic, demographic, geopolitical, and health baseline information of the communities within our area of influence. The extent of information examined is relative to the level of our activity with, and potential impacts on, the area of influence. This information supports Teck in measuring socio-economic performance.


    We conduct social impact assessments to help us understand how our activities might positively and negatively impact local communities. For example, we completed a social impact assessment for the Baldy Ridge Expansion Project at our Elkview Operations, and we recently submitted an environmental and social impact assessment to approve the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project in Chile.


    We also conduct social risk assessments to help us understand how and why impacts from our activities are relevant to our COIs and how external factors can affect COI acceptance of our activities and, ultimately, our ability to conduct business.


    Engage with COIs and manage risks

    Starting from early exploration, we conduct COI mapping and Area of Influence exercises in order to help define local COIs that we then seek to engage with. Early engagement gives communities an opportunity to learn about Teck, who we are, how we operate, and the details of our proposed exploration long before any activities begin. This allows the community to develop an understanding of our activities and an early opportunity to express their concerns and interests. Teck also benefits from establishing these early relationships. When this occurs, we are more likely to develop exploration projects that can incorporate community feedback and their support. We conduct Area of Influence and COI identification exercises at all of our operations, development and exploration projects.

    Maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts through proactive management actions that are informed by community consultation

    We minimize our negative impacts primarily through stringent and comprehensive environmental management systems and through engagement to understand and manage issues of importance to COIs. We maximize positive impacts by seeking ways to improve the socio-economic well-being of local communities through local employment and procurement opportunities, taxation and payments to governments, and direct voluntary investments in communities. Please see our Economic Performance and Contributions (http://www.teck.com/responsibility/sustainability-report/material-topics/economic-performance-and-contributions/) page for detailed discussions on how we accomplish this goal.

    Check and Act

    Monitor and evaluate performance to understand the effectiveness of management actions and improve on them where necessary

    Our primary means for measuring the effectiveness of our management approach is through the information we receive via feedback mechanisms and engagement, including surveys, workshops, town hall meetings, and grievance mechanisms. Our feedback mechanisms are designed to provide a means for COIs to ask questions, to express concerns and provide feedback about our activities, and to receive a timely response. Through direct engagement with local COIs, we can gauge the success of our management approaches and determine if and how we need to adjust them to improve results.

    Recognize and adapt to changes in impacts throughout the mining life cycle

    Operations routinely update their social risk assessments to ensure that the impacts of our activities are avoided or minimized and, where unavoidable, rehabilitated or rectified. This process of continual improvement is embedded in our system and helps us to respond to changing conditions or priorities of COIs where we operate. Building on engagement and assessment activities, we analyze the results and, incorporating our past experiences and industry knowledge, can reasonably foresee issues that will need management, as well as opportunities for the realization of benefits.


    In order to build strong relationships with communities based on trust and mutual respect, it is essential that the interests of communities are heard and that their concerns are addressed. Teck staff at all sites undertake frequent and, at times significant, engagement activities with communities to bring these interests and concerns to light. These activities include regular disclosure about site activities, direct consultation on significant changes in mining activities, and the creation of formal processes with community members to address issues in an ongoing and cooperative way. 

    Teck also provides direct feedback mechanisms at every operation, project and exploration region to specifically ensure that those who want to submit feedback — whether it’s a comment, question, concern, complaint or compliment — are able to do so easily and, if they choose, anonymously. Our HSEC Management Standards involves investigating all grievance-type feedback to determine the root cause and to implement appropriate actions, and to communicate this information in a timely manner back to the complainant. Our SMART Feedback Mechanism Tool guides the process of developing and implementing a feedback mechanism at each operation in a manner that is appropriate to the scale of our activity.

    These mechanisms may include dedicated phone lines and in-person or online platforms to provide feedback. Feedback items that are received are recorded using a database system called TrackLine and categorized by subject and severity. Higher-level feedback items are regarded as “significant grievances”, recognizing that they are often specific issues of concern to community members that require a response and potential further action from the company. A focus for 2016 was on reviewing effectiveness of our grievance mechanism.

    Two examples of feedback management are as follows:

    Carmen de Andacollo (CdA): Mining practice and activities-related grievances were associated with noise and vibration events at CdA related to blasting and noise from trucks. In response to grievances, operations worked to identify the sources and, where they were Teck occurrences, determined ways to avoid or mitigate the noise. CdA’s various departments collaborated to implement modifications to operational activities, including efforts to avoid noise at night. Continued improvement in these practices and information-sharing with the community on mitigations will remain a priority for 2017.

    Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley: Operations near communities in the Elk Valley experienced an increase in dust-related grievances in 2016 that was attributable to changes in mining activities, geological composition and mining areas. In addition to implementing dust management programs, teams have focused on improved information-sharing with residents/complainants on response activities, including actions taken to mitigate and manage dust, and to better track the relationship between operational activities and dust events.

    What Was Our Performance in Community Engagement in 2016?

    In the section below, we report on our engagement on actual or potential impacts, on our progress in implementing the SMART Framework and feedback, and on grievances and disputes.

    Engagement on Actual or Potential Impacts

    All operations, projects and exploration sites continue to demonstrate a high level of performance on engagement with COIs to address current and emerging issues and to maximize opportunities that provide strategic value for both Teck and those communities. We demonstrate our performance in community engagement by reporting on impact management, general feedback received, grievances and disputes.

    Activities across the mining life cycle may result in a range of social, economic and environmental impacts, both positive and negative. Examples of specific impacts experienced at our operations in 2016 and how we responded are discussed in Table 36.

    Table 36: Selected Actual and Potential Impacts from Our Activities and Major Engagement Activities in 2016

    Actual or Potential Impacts on Communities from Our Activities


    Major Engagement Activities

    Community: concerns about Red Dog Operations (RDO) activities related to subsistence resources, traditional land use, and community health

    Red Dog Operations

    We established a working group and developed a Memorandum of Agreement with the community of Kivalina. The objective of the Memorandum of Agreement was to establish clear expectations and activities related to community health and promotion of traditional land use and subsistence.

    We worked with the Subsistence Committee, which has representatives from NANA, local residents and the mine, to create a safety communication plan for hunting caribou on the haul road, and hired NANA security to improve safety and communications on the road between the port and operation.

    Socio-economic: activities related to local taxation

    We met with the Northwest Arctic Borough to advance negotiations around a new taxation agreement that supports both the region and the mine.

    Environmental: impacts on land and recreational regions

    Cardinal River Operations

    We hosted an annual meeting with recreational trail users and shared key messages related to proposed reclamation activities, certification plans for the Sphinx Lake area, and progress towards an alternate route to Cadomin Mountain.

    Socio-economic/Environmental: impacts associated with exploration activities

    We communicated with First Nations and high-priority stakeholders that the company is submitting a Coal Exploration Program for the Mackenzie and Redcap areas of the Cheviot Mine. As Teck consults and engages with Indigenous Peoples and COIs about the exploration program, we will better understand how the program impacts their rights and interests, and how these impacts can be avoided, managed or mitigated.

    Socio-economic: impacts associated with closure

    Coal Mountain Operations

    We continued to engage with the local community to assess social risks associated with planned closure in late 2017 and we incorporated social considerations into the site closure plan.

    Environmental/Socio-economic: actual and potential impacts on livelihoods and community well-being due to dust from mining activities

    Elkview Operations

    We held discussions with individual residents on feedback related to dust, provided information about actions taken to mitigate and manage dust, and established a process for various departments to record all activities that potentially influence dust generation and conditions, or non-operational dust controls.

    Socio-economic: impacts associated with expanding operations at Quebrada Blanca

    Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Project

    We held discussions with local fishing unions to avoid and mitigate the impacts of our proposed port development. We also held discussions regarding a proposed road bypass with potentially affected communities near the Coposa region.

    Environmental/Socio-economic: actual and potential impacts associated with expanding operations at Quebrada Blanca

    After submitting the regulatory application for Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 in September 2016, we initiated a public consultation process, building on the pre-submission consultation already conducted.

    Socio-economic/Environmental: actual or potential impacts associated with developing a new copper-gold-molybdenum mine

    NuevaUnión Project

    In collaboration with our joint venture partner Goldcorp, we engaged Diaguita community leaders to establish a process for dialogue on the project and strengthen Indigenous People’s participation in the consultation process. Additionally, we continued engagement with local stakeholders on the environmental impact assessment and associated studies.

    Environmental/Socio-economic: actual and potential impacts on Indigenous Peoples

    Frontier Project

    We signed a participation agreement with the Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125, Fort McKay Métis and Fort McKay First Nation. We also advanced negotiations with other Indigenous Peoples near our Frontier project.


    Environmental: actual and potential impacts on the environment

    We held workshops in Fort McMurray in July 2016 to introduce Teck’s biodiversity management process and to advance the fisheries offset plan, the wildlife mitigation and monitoring plan, and the land access management plan for Frontier.

    Environmental: impacts on land and water

    Exploration – Turkey

    We held meetings with local residents regarding our environmental impact assessment for exploration activities in Turkey.

    Feedback, Grievances, Incidents and Disputes

    Feedback and grievances are a key source of social information for our sites and corporate teams. In the same way our environment teams monitor environmental outcomes, our community teams monitor positive and negative feedback from our COIs. Having a widely accessible feedback mechanism, and providing effective remedies through this mechanism, is an important way for us to understand our impacts on communities, which in turn allows us to work to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts. In 2016, we completed a company-wide review of feedback mechanisms and began introducing social incident reporting procedures.

    Feedback in 2016

    In 2016, we received 1,006 instances of feedback through direct feedback mechanisms established across our sites. Figure 17 illustrates a breakdown of feedback received through those mechanisms, categorized into environmental questions and concerns, Indigenous-related concerns, opportunities related to community investment, and our mining activities.

    Figure 17: 2016 Total Feedback Received through Feedback Mechanism by Topic Category

    In 2016, we received more community feedback through our mechanisms than we did in 2015 and less than we did in 2014. Feedback levels will vary from year to year for several reasons, including the level of permitting or project activity, which tend to increase the amount of feedback, and community utilization of feedback mechanisms. As practices at our sites improve, this will also improve the extent to which feedback mechanisms are utilized and therefore the amount of feedback received.

    We believe that continued proactive engagement with our communities has created more opportunities for COIs and individuals to provide feedback directly to company representatives, which has complemented formal feedback mechanisms. Teck will continue to monitor the performance of feedback mechanisms and engagement processes to ensure that communities continue to have diverse opportunities to engage with and provide feedback to all of our operations, major projects and key exploration projects.

    Grievances in 2016

    In 2016, of the total feedback received, 140 were considered grievances (classified as level 3 or level 4 feedback).

    It is important to note that grievances are reflective of perceived or actual events taking place as a result of company activities, and therefore do not necessarily constitute an actual negative impact or non-conformance event by the company. Teck’s practice is that all feedback is acknowledged, assessed and a response is communicated to the complainant, with the goal of providing a satisfactory reply or resolution in a timely manner.

    In 2016, our corporate community team worked with sites to review their feedback/grievance management practices. The purpose of the review was to enhance the internal identification, tracking, resolution and reporting of feedback as part of a unified approach to improving social performance across the company.

    Figure 18: 2016 Total Grievances Received through Feedback Mechanisms by Topic Category

    Disputes in 2016

    Disputes are considered significant when they cannot be resolved jointly with the complainant, are repeated or widespread, are breaches of law or company policy, are accusations related to human rights or the rights of Indigenous Peoples, or are related to death or serious illness. In 2016, three of Teck’s operations experienced significant disputes, which are summarized below.

    Red Dog Operations (RDO)

    The Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB) severance tax dispute with RDO continued in 2016. RDO continued to work on strengthening the relationship and encourage negotiations. A payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) proposal was collaboratively developed by the NAB and Teck. As of the end of 2016, parties continued to advance discussions on the long-term status of the severance tax ordinance and a potential negotiated solution.

    An employee of a Red Dog contractor, NANA/Lynden, was reported to have made insensitive remarks regarding the Kivalina residents’ caribou hunt that resulted in significant community concern. RDO community and human resources collaborated with NANA/Lynden and, following an investigation, removed the employee, and issued letters of apology to impacted employees. RDO also expanded training to include more employees and contractors.

    Quebrada Blanca

    In October 2016, a group of approximately 30 people from a nearby community illegally entered the Quebrada Blanca property to draw attention to local concerns about perceived impacts of the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project. The project team is continuing to engage with community members to identify and respond to community issues.

    Carmen de Andacollo

    In August 2016, residents of Andacollo marched in the street and occupied land owned by Teck, although not actively in use, to raise awareness of housing issues. In response to heightened community concerns, CdA will seek to strengthen its engagement with the community through participation in a local housing commission that has been created to address the issue.

    Internal Reporting of Community Incidents

    To ensure we are capturing and responding to all community concerns in addition to those raised through our usual feedback mechanisms, we piloted a community incident reporting system with selected sites in 2016. The identification and rapid internal reporting of significant community incidents supports the timely resolution of community concerns, and assists with post-incident analysis and efforts to prevent future recurrence. We expect to continue to roll out the internal reporting system to all sites in 2017. 

    Sustainability Strategy Spotlight

    In 2016, as part of our 2020 goal to engage with communities to identify social, economic and environmental priorities and to mutually define outcomes and measures of success, our Social Management and Responsibility at Teck (SMART) engagement activities were reviewed. We also implemented improved community investment tracking and reporting at our operations, which supported the $11.8 million we contributed in various community investment initiatives.

    Outlook for Community Engagement

    In 2017, we will continue to engage communities of interest at our sites and work towards maintaining or increasing community support for our activities. In particular, we will focus on engaging local communities in preparation for the closure of Coal Mountain Operations in British Columbia, engaging Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders as we advance our Frontier, Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 and NuevaUnión projects. Through integrating community engagement in all phases of the mining life cycle, by identifying social, economic and environmental priorities, and by defining outcomes together, we will work towards our vision of building strong relationships with communities and creating lasting mutual benefits.

    Using our SMART Framework, we will also improve our social management approach by further implementing guidance and procedures for feedback management, updating our information management systems for tracking and reporting, and better integrating social incident reporting and management into existing systems. These improvement activities will be undertaken to further strengthen consideration of human rights and Indigenous rights in Teck’s social management activities.  

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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.