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Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, negotiating agreements, procurement and community investment as well as relevant policies, procedures, management practices and systems.

GRI Indicators
204-103, 411-103, 411-1, G4-MM5, G4-MM6

Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

2018 marks 11 years since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly, and six years since the International Finance Corporation (IFC) adopted its Sustainability Framework, including Performance Standard 7. Both of these provide guidance for government and private sector interaction with Indigenous Peoples. Developing strong partnerships with Indigenous Peoples — within the mining industry and beyond — is fundamental to the mining industry and a strong economy. 

Building relationships and trust with Indigenous Peoples helps provide the foundation for dialogue to ensure the impacts of mining-related activities are mitigated appropriately. The majority of our operations and most of our development projects are located within, or immediately adjacent to, Indigenous Peoples’ territories. That makes establishing and maintaining strong relationships throughout the mining life cycle essential to our success.

Teck recognizes and respects the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples, and we are committed to building strong and lasting relationships. We work to achieve the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples for our activities, and we support self-defined community goals that provide lasting benefits. We continue to rely on the negotiation of mutually beneficial agreements as a foundation for strong and positive relationships and were proud to sign 22 new agreements with Indigenous communities in 2018.

Our Approach to Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Teck’s Indigenous Peoples Policy reaffirms our commitment to respect the rights, cultures, interests and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples. The policy was developed with input and guidance from Indigenous Peoples in our local communities, as well as with leading local and international groups with expertise in Indigenous and mining policy. Other policies that guide our approach to relationships with Indigenous Peoples include our Human Rights Policy, Inclusion and Diversity Policy and Expectations for Suppliers and Contractors

The Board of Directors, through its Safety and Sustainability Committee, broadly oversees health, safety, environment and community policies, systems, performance and auditing, including implementation of our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards. 
The following senior leaders are involved in implementing the management of relationships with Indigenous Peoples:

  • The 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

  • The Vice President, Community and Government Relations leads activities related to social management and responsibility, community engagement, community investment, and Indigenous affairs

Teck’s executive Indigenous Affairs Steering Committee includes our CEO and senior management representatives of our business units, our project and exploration group, and other functional groups such as human resources and legal. This committee provides oversight and guidance on major initiatives with Indigenous Peoples, including the negotiation of agreements. Our engagement with Indigenous Peoples is conducted primarily by our Communities teams at each of our operations, project and exploration sites, and is supported by our corporate Indigenous Affairs team. 

We work with various local, national and international organizations and programs to support Indigenous Peoples and communities:

  • Reconciliation Canada: Engages Canadians in dialogue around the relationships among Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians
  • Indspire Awards: We sponsor the Teck Canadian Aboriginal Bursary in partnership with Indspire, helping Indigenous youth achieve their potential
  • CAPE Fund: A $50 million investment fund, of which Teck is a founding member, created to support Indigenous entrepreneurs or communities in Canada in pursuing economic opportunities
  • Champions Table: Teck is a founding member of the Champions Table, a formal and ongoing opportunity to foster dialogue between Indigenous and business leaders in British Columbia
  • UN Women: Teck provides financial support to a UN Women initiative to create opportunities for skills development of Indigenous women in northern Chile

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 Performance Standard 7 provide guidance for government and private sector interaction with Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is an important societal process taking place around the world that 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.

Negotiating Agreements

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 is itself the true indicator of success.


Consultation plays an important role in our regulatory approval processes and project development, and helps to advance projects in a timely, cost-effective manner. 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 Peoples’ 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. 

Sharing Traditional Knowledge and Supporting Land Use Studies

For Indigenous communities, the landscape and its features provide sustenance and spiritual attachment. To minimize our impacts, Teck consults with Indigenous Peoples to promote mutual understanding and decision-making. At every stage of the mining life cycle, we support the integration of traditional knowledge and Indigenous perspectives into project planning, including, for example, through the development of traditional knowledge and land use studies to help us better understand the impacts of our activities on how Indigenous Peoples interact with the land around them. 

We work to engage with Indigenous Peoples and achieve their free, prior and informed consent, also known as FPIC, when proposing new or substantially modified projects. We aim to foresee any interruptions or complications to our projects by proactively integrating the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples into company decision-making throughout the mining life cycle, and by creating lasting benefits that respect their unique interests and aspirations.

Sharing Economic Benefits

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. For example, at our Red Dog Mine in Alaska, we have an operating agreement with the landowner NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., a Regional Alaska Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of northwest Alaska. Under the agreement, NANA receives a portion of the mine’s profits, and a majority of Red Dog’s employees and contractors are NANA shareholders.

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

In accordance with our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Management Standards, part of our selection of suppliers considers possible representation from Indigenous or traditionally excluded groups, within each supplier’s ownership structure. 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.

Cultural Awareness Training

To enhance our capacity to engage with Indigenous communities, we conduct cultural awareness training for Communities teams at a number of our operations including, for example, at Red Dog Operations, where a significant number of our employees self-identify as Indigenous.


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

Our sustainability strategy guides our long-term approach to forming relationships with Indigenous Peoples as well as all of our stakeholders and communities across Teck. 

By 2020, we will:

  • Refine 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
  • Engage with communities to identify social, economic and environmental priorities and to mutually define outcomes and measures of success
  • Work with Indigenous Peoples to identify and participate in initiatives to support the self-defined goals of Indigenous communities
  • Develop metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, employment and procurement to establish baselines and drive progress

By 2030, we will:

  • Fully integrate social risk and opportunity, human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples into how we do business and into our individual actions and behaviours
  • Create lasting mutual benefits through collaboration on social, economic and environmental initiatives
  • Collaborate with Indigenous communities to consistently create lasting benefits that respect their unique interests and aspirations

Table 1: Relationships with Indigenous Peoples Audits 



Items Audited


Mining Association of Canada: Towards Sustainable Mining audit

  • Community of Interest (COI) identification
  • Effective COI engagement and dialogue
  • COI response mechanism
  • Reporting 


International Council on Mining and Metals: Sustainability Report assurance

  • Total number of significant disputes relating to land use and the customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples
  • Principle 3: Respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of employees and communities affected by our activities 

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 Relationships with Indigenous Peoples in 2018

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. 

Table 21: Summary of Engagement with Indigenous Peoples in 2018


Major Activities

Cardinal River Operations

Engagement was focused on the amendment application for the MacKenzie Redcap project, which if approved will extend operations from 2020 to 2028. For this project, Cardinal River is engaging with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Whitefish Lake First Nation, O’Chiese First Nation and the Mountain Cree. Cardinal River was also invited to a Sundance ceremony celebrating the Mountain Cree community’s 50th anniversary.

Frontier Project

We concluded consultation and signed 14 agreements with Indigenous groups potentially affected by the project. Engagement efforts also focused on Indigenous participation in the Joint Review Panel hearing for the project, which ended in December 2018. Additionally, we continued to implement agreements that were signed in 2016 and 2017.

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Engagement activities were focused on the negotiations and implementation of agreements with 17 Indigenous communities. Agreement topics that were discussed included Indigenous business opportunities, employment, and environmental and land use interests. Collaboration was also focused on developing an engagement framework for joint decision-making for a pending mine extension, and reclamation and closure planning.

Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) Project

QB2 completed the Indigenous Consultation Process as part of our permitting application, which resulted in agreements with seven of the eight Indigenous communities that were part of the engagement. Following this process, additional engagement was held, which resulted in the eighth agreement also being finalized. 

Red Dog Operations

We conducted community meetings in all 11 Indigenous communities near Red Dog Operations. Meetings were also held with Indigenous organizations and governments, which included Indigenous leadership from nearby communities, NANA Regional Corporation, the Northwest Arctic Borough and Assembly, Regional Elders Council, Village Improvement Commission and Economic Development Council. Subsistence Committee meetings with the Siñgaqmiut Working Group were held quarterly.

Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

Ongoing engagement was held with the Ktunaxa Nation through our joint Environment and Cultural Working Groups as well as the Procurement and Employment Task Force Groups. Key engagement topics included major regulatory applications, ongoing development of a Cultural Management Plan, sharing business opportunities within capital projects and enhancing our employment-related communication. We also participated in a number of cross-cultural exchanges including haul truck ride-alongs, a tour of reclamation activities by youth, community presentations and Ktunaxa Culture Camp.

Trail Operations

Engagement continued with the Ktunaxa Nation, which focused on cultural awareness training and relationship building, as well as meetings with the Regional Manager for the B.C. Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. In addition, meetings were held with the Okanagan Nation Alliance to hear about their priorities for the region.

Significant Disputes and Litigation

There were zero significant disputes for Teck involving Indigenous Peoples in 2018.

Cultural Awareness Training 

We regularly deliver training on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and cultural awareness for exploration, operations and management staff. This training is particularly important for those who have extensive contact with Indigenous Peoples in their day-to-day roles and for other business leaders. In 2018, approximately 115 people at our operations attended cultural awareness training, which supports understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity, and encourages maintaining a safe and respectful work environment in alignment with Teck’s culture, values and beliefs. In addition, more than 40 people from our Vancouver head office participated in cultural awareness training.

Action on Reconciliation

Teck is committed to playing a role in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, particularly in Canada, and continues to work 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 supporting the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on economic reconciliation between the Business Council of British Columbia and the BC Assembly of First Nations. Additionally, we are continuing to proactively engage in government-led initiatives to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples in several jurisdictions through their participation in mining-related activities. 

Our plan for reconciliation provides a framework for our work with Indigenous Peoples. It brings together our existing Indigenous policies and initiatives, and outlines practical actions we are taking to build a shared future with Indigenous Peoples that is built on four pillars: respect, relationships, responsiveness and reporting. 

Negotiating and Implementing Agreements

In 2018, there were 66 active agreements in place with Indigenous Peoples, including 22 new agreements ranging from exploration agreements to impact benefit agreements.12 For a full list of our active agreements with Indigenous Peoples for projects and operations, see our 2018 Sustainability Performance Data spreadsheet.

In order to ensure that the obligations in agreements are understood, tracked and fulfilled, Teck incorporates commitments into SiteLine, our internal commitments tracking tool. This helps to ensure that agreements with Indigenous Peoples continue to be integrated into our business management systems at all levels, which will result in better outcomes for both Teck and Indigenous Peoples, particularly in areas such as Indigenous procurement, employment and training.

Sharing Economic Benefits

Employment is one way in which local communities can benefit from our operations, and we work with local Indigenous communities to increase the number of Indigenous Peoples employed at Teck. Commitments related to employment are an important consideration within many of our impact benefit agreements. Commitments in these agreements reflect the priorities of the local community and can include offering specific roles exclusively to qualified Indigenous Peoples, offering internship opportunities for Indigenous students, establishing employment processes and related key performance indicators, and supporting local apprenticeship and training programs. We also pursue company-wide approaches to increasing Indigenous employment, training and retention through the implementation of our Indigenous Peoples Policy and our sustainability strategy. 

We report on the number of our Indigenous employees, who are NANA shareholders, at our Red Dog Operations, and in 2018, 53% of the workforce was Indigenous. In 2018, as part of our 2020 goal to develop metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, and employment, we began collecting data on new hires who self-identify as Indigenous at our Highland Valley Copper and Elk Valley operations, in addition to the number of NANA shareholders employed at Red Dog. In 2018, 189, or 9%, of our 2,005 total company-wide hires were either NANA shareholders or self-identified as Indigenous. We are working towards improving our data-collection processes on self-identified hires from all operations moving forward. 

Procurement from Indigenous Suppliers

In 2018, our operations spent approximately $209 million with suppliers who self-identified as Indigenous; this represents an overall increase compared to 2017. In 2018, 46% ($144 million) of Red Dog Operation’s spending was with Indigenous suppliers — where Indigenous procurement is one of the cornerstones of our operating agreement with NANA Regional Corporation.

Figure 19: Procurement Spend on Suppliers Who Self-Identified as Indigenous 

Community Investment Focused on Indigenous Peoples 

In 2018, $2.9 million of our community investment went towards Indigenous-specific investments, compared to $2.3 million in 2017. One of our more significant investments in this area was our continued support for a program with UN Women and the Government of Chile on a collaborative project to promote the empowerment, leadership and economic participation of Indigenous women in northern Chile. 

12 An agreement typically made with Aboriginal or Indigenous Peoples that outlines the potential impacts of a project, the commitment and responsibilities to mitigate these impacts, and the economic and other benefits that will be shared with the Aboriginal or Indigenous party.

Outlook for our Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

As we move forward in 2019 with the implementation of our existing agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we will continue to engage early and effectively at all stages of the mining life cycle. We will advance Teck’s actions for reconciliation, in support of working with Indigenous Peoples, to identify and execute initiatives and sustainable development projects that support the self-defined goals of their communities. 

In 2019, we will focus on implementing indicators to track the performance of our commitments as outlined in agreements. In particular, we will continue to improve Teck’s collection and management of Indigenous data. In 2019, we will also focus on the implementation of the new agreements established for our Frontier project and our Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project. 



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