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Biodiversity and Reclamation

Biodiversity and Reclamation

Our operations are adjacent to or within areas of high biodiversity value including temperate and arctic areas, forests and deserts. Effectively managing biodiversity, reclamation and closure is part of our commitment to responsible resource development, and is integral to meeting regulatory requirements and maintaining community support for our activities.

Biodiversity and our Sustainability Strategy

Biodiversity and reclamation is one of our eight strategic themes along with: health and safety, climate change, our people, water, tailings management, communities and Indigenous Peoples, and responsible production. Our sustainability strategy has long-term strategic priorities and shorter-term sustainability goals.

Strategic Priority:

Work towards securing a net positive impact on biodiversity

Goal:

By 2025, all operating sites have and are implementing plans to secure net positive impact.


Management and Performance in Biodiversity and Reclamation

Management and Performance in Biodiversity and Reclamation
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Our Approach to Mine Closure

  • Early engagement with communities and Indigenous Peoples
    • Build relationships
    • Inform and engage before any activity begins
    • Involve in closure and end land use planning
  • Outline of progressive and post-closure reclamation
  • Forecast mine life and closure date
  • Assess potential community impacts of closure and mitigation strategies
  • Estimate of resources needed for closure and reclamation
  • Expand upon closure and end land use plan, including more detailed information on how we will:
    • Reclaim mining areas and water features such as tailings facilities
    • Ensure biodiversity is protected, including vegetation and wildlife habitat
    • Help transition employees and local communities to a post-mining economy
  • Continue engagement with communities and Indigenous Peoples
    • Engage in detailed closure and end land use planning
    • Prepare employees and communities for effects of closure
  • Update the plan throughout the life of the mine to ensure it remains relevant; incorporate new issues, research and practices
  • Planning intensifies as a mine begins to near the end of its life
  • Occurs when the mine reaches its end of life, usually when ore reserves are exhausted
  • Smaller crews remain at site to dismantle the mine processing facilities and equipment
    • Buildings and physical infrastructure are removed, relocated or disassembled
    • Removing and properly disposing of any hazardous materials
  • For employees, we provide transition support and work to identify opportunities to move them to other operations where possible
  • Dialogue continues with local stakeholders to support the postmining economic and social transition
  • Progressive reclamation occurs throughout the mining process
  • At closure, reclamation activities focus on returning all remaining disturbed land to a stable state for post-mining land uses (e.g., wetlands, various wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation, commercial uses)
  • Activities can include:
    • Revegetating areas
    • Managing water quality
    • Resloping and contouring rock piles as necessary
    • Capping or covering waste rock piles
    • Closing or reclaiming water features, including tailings facilities
  • Our Legacy Properties team manages post-closure at former mine sites
  • We continue to engage with communities to implement end land use opportunities; such as:
    • Biodiversity conservation
    • Indigenous Peoples’ subsistence activities (e.g., hunting and gathering)
    • Recreation (e.g., fishing, hunting)
    • Agriculture
    • Local economic development opportunities
  • Monitoring programs assess the effectiveness of reclamation strategies and identify any additional reclamation work that may be needed
  • Ongoing care and maintenance to ensure public safety and that our closure actions were successful in achieving end land use objectives, including:
    • Ecosystem rehabilitation
    • Water treatment, if necessary
    • Monitoring and maintenance of any remaining water structures
    • Public access management and safety

Our Approach to Reclamation

Prior to mining, we conduct social, environmental, regulatory and archeological assessments and consult with Indigenous Peoples and local communities regarding traditional and recreational land uses. The information we gather on the original conditions at our mine sites helps shape our long-term reclamation targets for areas such as water, soil and biodiversity, as well as end land uses.

During our initial research we develop a biodiversity baseline for each site that guides our reclamation plans. It helps us ensure we are minimizing impacts to animals, plants and their habitats, and is factored into all our work throughout the life of the mine.

To prepare the site for mining, we begin by removing the sand, gravel, topsoil and vegetation in the areas we plan to mine. Where practicable, we save this mixed soil material so we can use it as part of reclamation work as mining is completed. Soil is a valuable resource for re-establishing native plant-life, which leads on to habitat for birds, insects and other animals to make the former mine their home once again.

When mining in a particular area of the operation is complete, we begin the work of reclaiming that area of the mine even as work continues in other areas of the operation.

Sloping and placing soil
 
We re-slope the area as required, and place the soil material salvaged in Step 2 on areas of the mine to be revegetated. We may also use additional coarse woody debris—fallen trees and large branches found in the areas ground cover during the reclamation process—as ground cover during the reclamation process. We also use wildlife trees, dead trees placed vertically in the ground, to provide structures on rocky areas which can be used as nesting or perching habitat for birds. This enhances the biodiversity value of the reclaimed landscape by returning key elements of mature or old growth forest that create suitable habitat for nesting birds.

Replanting
 
Whenever possible, we plant native species when reclaiming a mined area, chosen based on research and consultation conducted during previous planning phases. We use those native species most likely to survive and thrive in a particular area and we also plant the type of vegetation most suitable for natural ecosystems that occur in the area, in order to achieve ecosystem and biodiversity objectives. We also incorporate cultural uses of the land, after learning about those from area Indigenous peoples and other community stakeholders tied to the land.

For example, one area of reclamation at our Fording River Operations is a relatively low-elevation site, and is east-facing, which means that the slopes are cooler and moister than a sunny west-facing slope would be. This results in selection of plant species that will thrive in a cooler and moister environment. Species such as Engelmann spruce will have much higher growth rates in these sites than if planted on a drier and warmer site. Reclamation at higher elevation sites can mean a harsher climate—higher winds, more exposed sites—so vegetation planted in these areas needs to be tailored to thrive in these conditions. A lot of work goes into determining the right types of vegetation to plan: site studies, Indigenous peoples consultation and science informs these decisions.

Reclaiming water features
 
Another important part of the reclamation process is reclaiming water features at the mine site, such as tailings ponds and pit lakes. Tailings are the finely ground rock particles, sand, silt and other substances left following the process that extracts the valuable resource (e.g. copper, zinc, steelmaking coal) from the rock. They are often stored in tailings ponds created through the use of berms, dams or natural features that hold it all in place. Depending on the reclamation plan and the end land uses, these ponds are either entirely drained of water and decommissioned, or turned into new aquatic ecosystems of their own.

In some cases, our closure plans include creating other new water features that remain after mining, called pit lakes. In this case, when one area of a mine is complete, the remaining pit can be filled with tailings or rock and then covered with water, creating a new lake. Turning tailings ponds and pit lakes into functioning, healthy aquatic ecosystems is something Teck has done successfully at several of our sites, including our Highland Valley and Cardinal River operations.

Once reclamation of an area is complete, we monitor the success of reclamation activities and adjust our approaches as necessary to ensure our land-use plans are working and environmental and biodiversity objectives are being achieved.

At some mine sites, long-term treatment of water is required. In those cases, Teck responsibly operates and maintains those facilities, and monitors to ensure water quality targets are being met.

Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation

Responsible Mine Closure & Reclamation

Read more about our approach to mine closure and reclamation. 

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Teck

As one of Canada’s leading mining companies, Teck is committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, zinc, and steelmaking coal, as well as investments in energy assets.