Teck Logo

Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Management approach and performance related to our work with Indigenous Peoples including engagement, agreements, benefits and disputes.

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

Why was Relationships with Indigenous Peoples a Material Topic in 2016?

There are more than 370 million Indigenous Peoples living around the world in 90 countries(1), who have unique rights, cultures and connection to the land. Historically, many Indigenous Peoples have suffered abuse, discrimination and marginalization through colonial and post-colonial eras. As a result, many Indigenous Peoples face systemic challenges and may live in poverty with their cultural rights and traditions threatened. Consequently, Indigenous Peoples are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of commercial development and business activities.

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 (IFC) Performance Standard 7 provides guidance for government and private sector interaction with Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is an important societal process taking place around the world. This process of addressing the negative legacies of past colonial eras in countries such as Canada, the United States, Chile and Australia 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.

(1) Business Reference Guide: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In many cases, mining activity is often located within or adjacent to the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples. Mining-related activities can have positive and negative impacts that can be uniquely felt by Indigenous Peoples due to their inherent connection to the land and proximity to mining projects. Positive impacts can include employment creation, opportunities for education and training, local economic development, such as procurement from Indigenous sources, and valuable community investment projects. Negative impacts can include environmental impacts, economic volatility and changes to social dynamics and well-being.

Member companies of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) are required to meet the expectations outlined in the Indigenous Peoples and Mining Position Statement, which sets out an obligation for companies to work to obtain the consent of Indigenous Peoples for new projects and changes to existing projects that are located on lands traditionally owned by or under customary use of Indigenous Peoples. In particular, the position statement outlines ICMM’s view of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as a process based on good faith negotiation, through which Indigenous Peoples can give or withhold their consent to a project.


Ten of our 12 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 People’s 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. We work to ensure that Indigenous communities are true partners in the sharing of the benefits of resource development. We believe that stable, constructive and mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples are typically reflected through the development of clear and predictable benefit agreements.

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


Performance Highlights

Our Targets and Commitments

Teck respects the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples and is committed to building strong and lasting relationships that help us understand each other’s perspectives and priorities as outlined in our Indigenous Peoples Policy.

In particular, we are committed to:

  • Work with Indigenous Peoples to identify and participate in initiatives to support the self-defined goals of Indigenous communities by 2020
  • Develop metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, employment and procurement to establish baselines and drive progress by 2020
  • Collaborate with Indigenous communities to consistently create lasting benefits that respect their unique interests and aspirations by 2030

How Does Teck Manage its Relationships with Indigenous Peoples?

Our approach is 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. It is our aim to integrate the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples into company decision-making throughout the mining life cycle and to create lasting benefits that respect their unique interests and aspirations. Not only is early and meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples a matter of international law and governance, but it also helps Teck advance projects in a timely, cost-effective manner.

Governance and Management Systems

Our engagement with Indigenous Peoples is conducted by Communities staff at each of our operations, project or exploration sites and is supported by our corporate Indigenous Affairs team. Our Vice President, Community and Government Relations and Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs provide guidance and oversight on our engagement with Indigenous Peoples. We also have an executive Indigenous Affairs steering committee that includes our CEO and senior management representing our business units, our projects and our exploration groups, which provides oversight and guidance on major initiatives with Indigenous Peoples, including the negotiation of agreements.

Commitment to International Standards and Laws

We acknowledge and respect Indigenous People’s rights and interests as enshrined in regional, national and international law, and we understand that the extent to which Indigenous People’s rights are legally recognized varies by jurisdiction. In Canada, for example, certain Indigenous People’s rights regarding access to land have been articulated in treaties, while other historical or traditional rights are generally not documented or clearly defined. The law related to Aboriginal title in Canada, as elsewhere, continues to evolve. In Chile, the federal government intends to establish a Ministry of Indigenous Communities to define a national policy to implement and strengthen the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their socio-economic, political and cultural development. International law continues to shape requirements related to working with Indigenous Peoples.

Teck’s Indigenous Peoples Policy and Approach to FPIC

In 2015, Teck established an Indigenous Peoples Policy that reaffirms our commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples to ensure that Indigenous rights, cultural heritage and traditional land use are respected. The policy was developed with input and guidance from Indigenous Peoples in our local communities as well as from leading international and local groups with expertise in Indigenous and mining policy.


Consultation plays an important role in regulatory approval processes and project development. 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. When our activities have the potential to affect Indigenous People’s rights or traditional access to land, we seek opportunities for meaningful consultation, including sharing information on our activities, understanding the interests of Indigenous Peoples and developing measures to address impacts on those interests.


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

Cultural Awareness Training

To enhance our capacity to engage with Indigenous communities, one of the goals in our sustainability strategy was to deliver training on Indigenous People’s rights and cultural awareness for key exploration, operations and management staff. Since 2011, we have conducted dialogue training and cultural awareness training for Communities teams at our operations, with a focus on Red Dog, Quebrada Blanca and Carmen de Andacollo operations.

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


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

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.

One example of an agreement at Teck with provisions related to employment and benefit sharing is at our Red Dog Operations. Over 25 years ago, Red Dog Operations was developed through an innovative operating agreement between the operator Teck and the landowner NANA Regional Corporation Inc. (NANA), a Regional Alaska Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of northwest Alaska. Since mining began, NANA has received approximately US$1.53 billion from the mine. Under Alaskan regulation, it has retained approximately US$554 million, sharing the balance with other Indigenous communities in the state.

Red Dog Mine directly creates more than 600 full-time, family-supporting jobs at the mine site, in an area of Alaska where good-paying jobs are scarce. Since 1989, NANA shareholders have received more than US$507 million in wages by working at Red Dog. In 2016, approximately 638 NANA shareholders (employees and contractors) worked at the mine, earning US$37.55 million in wages.

In British Columbia, in addition to resource revenue sharing established directly through agreements with Teck, the province negotiates Economic and Community Development Agreements (ECDAs) with Indigenous Peoples for sharing the direct mineral tax revenue on new mines and major mine expansions. Specific to Teck’s operations, the Ktunaxa Nation have 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.

Procurement and Hiring Practices and Indigenous Peoples

We are developing initiatives aimed at increasing procurement from Indigenous suppliers. For example, 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.

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 at a local, regional and national scale. This includes investments that support Indigenous language and cultural training, youth education and development, health and wellness programs, and various environmental initiatives. Our aim is to ensure these community investments align with needs and opportunities identified in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples.

For Indigenous communities, the landscape and its features provide sustenance and spiritual attachment. To minimize impacts on Indigenous heritage and culture, Teck consults with Indigenous Peoples to promote mutual understanding and cooperation. At our operations and resource development projects and, where appropriate, at our exploration and development projects, we support the development of traditional land use studies and other community-based traditional knowledge studies to help us better understand the interests of Indigenous Peoples and our potential impacts on those interests. 

What Was Our Performance in Relationships with Indigenous Peoples in 2016?

In this section, we report on our activities in 2016 related to recognizing and respecting the interests and rights of Indigenous Peoples, such as cultural awareness training and responding to grievances, negotiating agreements, procurement, and community investment. We also provide an update on working towards our 2020 Community goals related to Indigenous Peoples.

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.


In 2016, our consultation activities were focused on:

  • An extension project at Cardinal River Operations
  • The proposed Frontier project in Alberta
  • Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project in Chile. To support the advancement of QB2, we established 12 working tables to facilitate our engagement with local COIs. Each working table is generally composed of COIs and Teck employees, although some may include other private companies and public institutions. Each working table selects and awards projects that the communities want to develop, allowing for collaboration in the decision-making process. Some of the projects that have originated from the working tables include rescue equipment for the fire department in Pozo Almonte, additional kindergarten classes in Pozo Almonte, social infrastructure projects in Chañavayita, and the Caramucho Renewable and Non-Conventional Energy Project in Chiclla.

Grievances and Litigation

In 2016, there was one grievance involving Indigenous Peoples and five in 2015. The 2016 grievance involved a concern regarding the conduct of an employee at our Red Dog operation.

For more information on the continuing environmental litigation regarding the Upper Columbia River and involving the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians, view our Upper Columbia River project page or the Upper Columbia River project website

Negotiating Agreements

In 2016, there were 54 active agreements in place with Indigenous Peoples, including 25 new agreements ranging from exploration agreements to impact benefit agreements. We focused on advancing agreements for our steelmaking coal operations, Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 and Frontier projects.

In May 2016, we signed an Impact Management and Benefits Agreement with the Ktunaxa Nation Council that will create numerous long-term benefits for the Ktunaxa people and increased certainty around future sustainable mining development in the region. Spanning approximately 40 years and all five of our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley region of British Columbia, it is one of the most comprehensive agreements of its kind in place in Canada. 

Throughout the year, we were engaged in agreement negotiations related to our Frontier oil sands project with Indigenous Peoples in the Athabasca region of northeastern Alberta. In 2016, we signed agreements with Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125, Fort McKay First Nation and Fort McKay Métis. The agreements provide a range of social and economic benefits and create opportunities for meaningful engagement and communication. A framework for items such as contracting opportunities, skills development and environmental stewardship related to the project is also included in the agreements.

To date, Teck has negotiated agreements with Indigenous Peoples in countries such as Canada, Chile, Peru, Australia and the United States. These agreements range from general memoranda of understanding to more comprehensive long-term agreements such as those noted in Table 33. The total number of agreements varies from year to year, as shorter-term agreements, common at the exploration stage, may expire or evolve into more comprehensive agreements.

Table 33: Active Agreements with Indigenous Groups at our Operations

Operations Within or Adjacent to Indigenous People’s Territory

Name of Indigenous Group

Formal Agreements with Indigenous Groups

Cardinal River

Alexis Nakota Sioux

Impact Benefit Agreement

Whitefish Lake First Nation

Impact Benefit Agreement

Sucker Creek First Nation

Memorandum of Understanding

Ermineskin First Nation

Impact Benefit Agreement

Elk Valley

Ktunaxa Nation Council

Impact Management and Benefits Agreement

Shuswap Indian Band

Memorandum of Understanding

Highland Valley Copper

Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC)

Joint Relationship Agreement

Nlaka'pamux Participating Bands (CNA)

Participation Agreement

Lower Nicola Indian Band

Relationship Agreement

Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation

Funding Agreement

Quebrada Blanca

Tamentica and Copaquire

Working Protocol Agreement

Ecozona Matilla

Framework Agreement

Quechua Indigenous Community from Huatacondo

Benefits and Protocol Agreement

Red Dog

Iñupiat of Northwest Alaska

Development and Operating Agreement


Procurement from Indigenous Suppliers

In 2016, our operations spent approximately $128 million on suppliers who self-identified as Indigenous; this represents an overall decrease of 11%. The vast majority of this spending is at our Red Dog Operations, where Indigenous Peoples’ procurement is one of the cornerstones of our operating agreement, which governs the operation and development of the mine. In 2016, 42% ($113 million) of Red Dog’s spending was with Indigenous suppliers. Despite our commitment to working with Indigenous suppliers, challenging market conditions and a focus on cost containment led to a lower proportion of our total spending on Indigenous suppliers in 2016 at several of our operations.

Table 34: Company-Wide Procurement Spend on Suppliers who Self-Identified as Indigenous (millions)






Dollars spent





Community Investment Focused on Indigenous Peoples

In 2016, 37% ($4.6 million) of our total community investment went towards Indigenous-specific investments, compared to 17% in 2015 ($2.7 million). One of our more significant investments in this area was our support for a program with UN Women and the Government of Chile on a collaborative project to promote the empowerment, leadership, and economic and social participation of Indigenous women in northern Chile.

Sustainability Strategy Spotlight

In 2016, we completed reviews of current Indigenous employment, training, and procurement objectives, as well as related Impact Benefit Agreement commitments at Highland Valley Copper, Red Dog, Cardinal River, Greenhills, Line Creek, Fording River, Elkview and Coal Mountain operations. This information supports our 2020 goal of developing metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, employment and procurement.

Outlook for our Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

As Teck moves forward with the implementation and negotiation of agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we will continue to engage early and at all stages on the mining life cycle. In 2017, we will focus on working with Indigenous Peoples to identify and participate in initiatives that support the self-defined goals of Indigenous communities, related to areas such as economic opportunities and environmental stewardship.

Teck is committed to playing a role in reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and is working 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 is working on the implementation of the B.C. Business Council – B.C. Assembly of First Nations Memorandum of Understanding on economic reconciliation. Additionally, we are continuing to proactively engage in government led initiatives to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada through their participation in mining-related activities.

Teck Logo

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