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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

Historically, Indigenous Peoples have suffered abuse, discrimination and marginalization, and we know that Indigenous Peoples have not typically fully shared in the benefits and opportunities of resource development. Indigenous Peoples and their communities were often left out, and their rights, cultures and practices were not considered or accommodated when development took place. Together, we can help move into a new era of reconciliation that bridges social and economic gaps and builds relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Doing so will also help to advance UN SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth.

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 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. 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. In 2017, there was a renewed commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples by various governments, particularly in Canada, whose government established principles to guide the work required to fulfill the commitment to renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationships.

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.

Ten of our 12 operations7 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.

(7) 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.

Teck's Appoach to Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

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 and community investment

Teck’s executive Indigenous Affairs Steering Committee includes our CEO and senior management representatives of our business units, our projects and our exploration groups. 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 or exploration sites, and is supported by our corporate Indigenous Affairs team.

The management of relationships with Indigenous Peoples is part of our annual company objectives, especially in our Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) performance. HSEC performance is a factor in Teck’s bonus structure and affects from 15% to 20% of each department’s bonuses for all executives. In addition, the personal component of executive bonus ratings may include specific objectives related to HSEC matters, including engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

Ten of our 12 operations8 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.

(8) 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.

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.

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: Teck sponsors 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 provided $1 million to support 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 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.

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 retains a portion of the mine’s profits, and a key source 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 that 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 our Red Dog Operations, where a significant number of our employees self-identify as Indigenous, and at several other operations.


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. 

Table 1: Relationships with Indigenous Peoples Internal and External Audits



Items Audited


Mining Association of Canada: Towards Sustainable Mining audit

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


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 2017

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.

Significant Disputes and Litigation

While there were no significant disputes for Teck involving Indigenous Peoples in 2017, there were developments in relation to a past dispute. In 2015, there was a significant dispute at our Red Dog Operations where the Kivalina IRA Council filed a petition with the Environmental Assessment Agency to commence a Preliminary Assessment to determine if activities at Red Dog posed a human health or environment risk. To address this concern, in April 2017, Teck, the Kivalina IRA Council and the NANA Regional Corporation entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to ensure that the Kivalina residents’ health and welfare concerns regarding the mine are addressed through a collaborative approach. Subsequent to the signing of the MOA, the parties began implementation of the agreement including establishing the tripartite working group and hiring a project manager.

For more information on progress in our investigations of environmental conclusions in the Upper Columbia River, or the continuing environmental litigation regarding the Upper Columbia River and involving the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians, visit our website or pages 108–110 of our 2017 Annual Information Form.

Cultural Awareness Training

Teck is committed to continually increasing our awareness and understanding of the unique rights, cultures, history and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples in the areas where we explore and operate. We regularly deliver training on Indigenous People’s rights, cultural awareness and human rights 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 2017, approximately 250 people attended Cultural Awareness Orientation at our Red Dog Operations in addition to approximately 800 previous participants who received refresher training. This orientation addresses the meaning of culture and cultural awareness, encourages appreciation for cultural diversity, and encourages maintaining a safe and respectful work environment in alignment with Teck’s culture, values and beliefs. A key aspect of the orientation for our employees was a focus on Iñupiat Ilitqusiat: the values of the local Iñupiaq people.

At our Highland Valley Copper (HVC) Operations, 80 people participated in cultural awareness training in 2017, bringing the total number to 290 from previous years. HVC is well on the way to achieving its goal of having 100% of employees and contractors trained in this regard by mid-2019. Collaborating with Indigenous communities on the delivery of this training is an important feature of this work.

Action on Reconciliation

Teck is committed to playing a role in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, particularly 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’s 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. In September 2017, we participated in the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, B.C., as a partner with Reconciliation Canada. In early 2018, we developed our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Our RAP 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. The RAP is built on four pillars: Respect, Relationships, Responsiveness and Reporting, and will be released later in 2018. 

Negotiating and Implementing Agreements

In 2017, there were 54 active agreements in place with Indigenous Peoples, including 23 new agreements ranging from exploration agreements to impact benefit agreements. Exploration agreements were also signed with numerous Indigenous groups in Canada, Chile and Australia. For a full list of our active agreements with Indigenous Peoples for projects and operations, see our 2017 Sustainability Performance Data spreadsheet.  

Table 15: Summary of Engagement with Indigenous Peoples in 2017


Major Activities

Cardinal River Operations

We signed participation agreements with the Ermineskin Cree Nation and the Whitefish Lake First Nation for our Cardinal River Operations, and engaged with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Mountain Cree, and O’Chiese First Nation, with a focus on potential mine development in the MacKenzie Redcap area. We conducted consultation on exploration activities and mine development, including the completion of several traditional land use studies for the area.

Frontier Project

Our engagement activities were focused on negotiating agreements with potentially affected Indigenous groups near the project. Three agreements were concluded in 2017 with the Métis Nation of Alberta Association Fort McMurray Local Council 1935, the Métis Nation of Alberta, Lakeland Local Council 1909, and a letter of intent with Fort McMurray First Nation. Additional engagement efforts included consultation with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Fort McKay First Nation.

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Our engagement activities were focused on the implementation of four agreements with 16 Indigenous communities. We held regular meetings to discuss aspects of our agreements such as Indigenous business opportunities, employment, environmental and land use interests. Closure planning and contracting were also key engagement topics in 2017.

Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Project

Through ongoing dialogue, our engagement addressed technical issues and social concerns related to the project. Funding was provided to Indigenous communities to complete independent studies, including social and environmental baselines, impact assessments and mitigation proposals. The regulatory Indigenous consultation process was initiated and is currently underway.

Red Dog Operations

We conducted engagement related to the Kivalina Memorandum of Agreement with Red Dog, the Subsistence Committee and the Northwest Arctic Borough Village Investment Fund. Items discussed were related to the proposed Aktigiruq exploration road route, changing the colour of the Port Concentrate Storage Building roof (which elders believe may affect marine animals) and reviewing how haul truck road closure decisions are made to protect caribou migration in the region.

Steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley

2017 was the first full year of implementation of the agreement with the Ktunaxa Nation with engagement directed through joint working groups on environmental, cultural, employment and procurement aspects as well as major regulatory applications. Through these working groups, we developed annual work plans, including the identification of indicators and a monitoring framework, as well as identifying opportunities for inter-group collaboration. We continue to work jointly on the development of a cultural management plan for our activities within the Ktunaxa territory and to build internal capacity.

Indigenous Agreements Commitments Register

The number and variety of agreements Teck has in place with Indigenous Peoples requires the management of commitments set out in those agreements to support effective implementation. In order to ensure that the obligations in agreements are understood, tracked and fulfilled, Teck began incorporating commitments into our internal data tracking framework in 2017. This will 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

Employing Indigenous Peoples

Employment is one way in which local communities can benefit from our operations, and we work with local Indigenous communities to improve the number of Indigenous Peoples employed at Teck. Commitments related to employment are an important consideration within 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 intern opportunities for Indigenous students, establishing employment processes and key performance indicators, and supporting local apprenticeship and training programs.

We are also pursuing company-wide approaches to increasing Indigenous employment, training and retention through the implementation of our Indigenous Peoples Policy and our sustainability strategy. In 2017, we made progress in the review of potential metrics for monitoring Indigenous training, employment and procurement, with the aim of establishing baselines and driving progress. Starting in July 2017, we began tracking the number of Teck’s new hires that self-identify as Indigenous. We will begin reporting this data beyond that for only Red Dog (see below), in our 2018 Sustainability Report.

Figure 17: Indigenous Employment at Select Operations in 2017

In 2017, our operations spent approximately $138 million on suppliers who self-identified as Indigenous; this represents an overall increase compared to 2016. Since 2010, our operations have spent over $1 billion on suppliers who self-identified as Indigenous. The vast majority of this spending in 2017 is at our Red Dog Operations, where Indigenous procurement is one of the cornerstones of our operating agreement, which governs the operation of the mine. In 2017, 38% ($105 million) of Red Dog’s spending was with Indigenous suppliers.Procurement from Indigenous Suppliers

Figure 18: Procurement Spend on Suppliers Who Self-Identified as Indigenous

Community Investment Focused on Indigenous Peoples

In 2017, 18% ($2.3 million) of our total community investment went towards Indigenous-specific investments, compared to 37% ($4.6 million) in 2016. 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.

Outlook for our Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

As Teck moves forward with the negotiation and implementation of agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we will continue to engage early and at all stages of the mining life cycle. In 2018, we will specifically focus on advancing Teck’s first Reconciliation Action Plan and improving our processes for collecting Indigenous-related data to support improved reporting practices related to Indigenous procurement, employment and training.

These efforts will be in support of working with Indigenous Peoples to identify and participate in initiatives that support the self-defined goals of Indigenous communities. In 2018, we will also focus on implementing our existing agreements with Indigenous Peoples and working to achieve new agreements with Indigenous Peoples in the area of our Frontier and Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 projects. We will also work on implementing the Kivalina Memorandum of Agreement near our Red Dog Operations.

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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.