Industrial buildings near a large body of water surrounded by hills, under clear skies.

Tailings Management

Teck's tailings facilities are operated and maintained to meet global best practices for safety throughout their life cycle. Whether active, inactive or along the path to a state of safe closure, we continually review our facilities and procedures and are committed to maintaining the highest standard of safety at our facilities.

Tailings Management andOur Sustainability Strategy

Tailings management is embedded within our sustainability strategy alongside health and safety, biodiversity and closure, climate change, water, our people, communities and Indigenous Peoples, and responsible production. Our sustainability strategy has long-term strategic priorities and shorter-term sustainability goals.

Strategic Priority:

Continue to manage our tailings across their life cycle in a safe and environmentally responsible way


  • Preferentially consider milling and tailings technologies that use less water for both new mines and any mine life extensions at existing mines.
  • Expand the use of digitally connected surveillance technologies to assist in monitoring our tailings storage facilities.
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Turquoise reservoir surrounded by arid hills with a dam on the right under a clear blue sky.

Our Tailings Management Policy, along with brief summaries of our tailings management approach and annual performance are provided at the following links with additional information below.

Tailings Management Policy

Management Approach



Left: Initial start-up of the QB2 Tailings Storage Facility 


Tailings are a common by-product of the mining process. They are typically created as mined ore is crushed, ground and/or processed to separate the valuable minerals and create a saleable concentrate product. The residual material from this concentrating process is called tailings. Due to the nature of the ore separation processes, tailings are commonly transported as a slurry of fine mineral particles and water but may also be dewatered and transported using conventional earth-moving equipment. The tailings are then placed in a specially designed impoundment called a tailings facility.

Tailings facilities exist in mining areas around the world. These facilities are historically well-managed with very few incidents; however, there have been failures, and from these failures we know that tailings incidents have the potential to have a significant impact on communities, local economies and the surrounding environment. As such, we take extensive measures throughout the mining life cycle, including planning, design, construction, operation and closure of our tailings facilities and commit to:

  • Managing tailings facilities in a manner that addresses risks, minimizes liabilities, and reduces potential long term-impacts to surrounding communities and the environment 

  • Proactively and meaningfully engaging with Communities of Interest on the design, management, and review of tailings facilities, and incorporating local knowledge into decision making 

  • Incorporation of best available practices and technologies in our management and governance of tailings facilities with the intent of continuous improvement in performance and safety

  • Development of emergency response plans and implementation of mechanisms for post-incident recovery in collaboration with our Communities of Interest

Global Industry Standard onTailings Management

In August 2020, the first global standard for tailings management, the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM), was launched jointly by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations Environment Programme and the Principles for Responsible Investment. The standard sets a high benchmark for improving the safe management of tailings facilities and supports the ultimate goal of zero harm. Teck was part of the advisory group that provided input to develop the new standard, and we were actively involved with the development of the ICMM’s Good Practice Guidance and Conformance Protocol; both documents developed specifically to assist with implementation of the GISTM. 

Teck is committed to implementation of the GISTM across our facilities in all jurisdictions. Teck has published a facility summary for all our active and inactive tailings facilities for the two highest consequence classifications, and for operating tailings facilities of other consequence classifications. You can find our GISTM related disclosures here.

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Tailings Facilities Construction

Teck’sTailings Facilities

Teck actively manages 28 tailings facilities across our active and legacy mine sites. Of these, 6 are active as part of our operations and 22 are inactive or closed and no longer receiving material. We have no active upstream tailings facilities and eight inactive or closed upstream facilities. Many sites have multiple tailings facilities, which may include both active and inactive facilities that are managed under the same policies and standards. Teck does not discharge tailings to rivers or oceans.

Teck also has non-operated joint venture interests with an operating tailings facility at Antamina in Peru, and an inactive tailings facility at the legacy NorthMet mine in the U.S.

Teck additionally has a copper growth pipeline of five projects at varying stage of development, and each of these projects will have an associated tailings facility. These projects include:

  • Galore Creek in Canada

  • San Nicolas in Mexico

  • New Range in the U.S.

  • Nueva Union in Chile

  • Zafranal in Peru

Download a full list of the tailings facilities Teck manages, including information on construction type and location.

Highland tailings facility at Highland Valley Copper operation

Inactive tailings facility at Highland Valley Copper Operation 

Safe and Secure Management ofTailings Facilities

Teck operates and maintains our tailings facilities to meet global best practices for safety including the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and other industry leading tailings governance protocols and guidelines established by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). These leading protocols are supported by applicable best practice technical and tailings management guidance from sources such as the Canadian Dam Association and the International Commission on Large Dams, which also inform Teck’s governance program. 

Six Levels of Protection

1. Surveillance Technology: Sites employ surveillance systems such as piezometers, inclinometers, pressure gauges, drones, satellite-based remote sensing and other technologies to monitor tailings embankments, abutments, natural slopes and water levels.


2. Staff Inspections: Tailings facilities are inspected by trained operators and expert technical staff as frequently as several times daily, with formal staff inspections regularly conducted at our active facilities and reported to senior management.


3. Annual Tailings Facility Performance Reviews: Formal reviews of physical performance are conducted annually by an external independent Engineer of Record for all our tailings facilities – active or inactive. Recent performance reviews for our facilities are publicly available here.


4. Detailed Third-Party Reviews: Comprehensive third-party safety reviews are conducted by qualified independent tailings experts as frequently as every three years, based upon the potential consequence for each facility.


5. Internal Governance Reviews: Teck’s Tailings Working Group conducts internal management reviews of our active and closed tailings facilities as well as our major tailings projects on a regular basis.


6. Independent Tailings Review Boards: All of our facilities, active or inactive (Legacy) have Tailings Review Boards made up of independent experts who meet regularly, at least annually, to conduct a third-party review of design, operation, surveillance and maintenance. These Boards also provide input into our internal governance and the quality of work done by our third- party engineers-of-record.

Emergency Preparedness

All Teck tailings facilities have a detailed Operations, Maintenance and Surveillance manual. All tailings facilities with credible failure scenarios and/or any appreciable potential consequence have a site-specific Mine Emergency Response Plan that includes specific preparedness and response plans for the tailings facility, which are regularly reviewed and updated. We also review Emergency Response Plans with our local communities and stakeholders and undertake community meetings and emergency drills to work through these plans and discuss our approach to tailings management.

For all facilities with a credible flow failure scenario (tailings that could credibly leave the impoundment in an uncontrolled and destructive manner), a breach and inundation evaluation is conducted to identify potentially impacted communities and waterbodies in the extremely unlikely event of a tailings incident, in order to evaluate design or mitigation strategies and to assist with emergency planning and response. Teck’s programs exist to reduce the likelihood of such catastrophic events.

Potential consequence is evaluated on the basis of the potential environmental, safety and economic effects of a failure. This ranking does not reflect likelihood of failure, but rather provides a tool to assist with facility design and emergency planning.


Transparency on Tailings

Teck is committed to being open and transparent with communities and other stakeholders regarding the construction and management of our tailings facilities. One of the most important pieces of information for each tailings facility is the Annual Facility Performance Report (AFPR). Formerly termed a Dam Safety Inspection (DSI), an AFPR is conducted annually for each tailings facility by the independent third-party Engineer of Record. The AFPR is a detailed examination of the facility and related infrastructure with the purpose of identifying any conditions or changes that might impact the safety and reliability of the structure and to make recommendations where any issues warranting attention are noted. Teck tracks the recommendations and works with the Engineer of Record to address each item in a timely manner. Follow this link for the AFPRs for Teck’s tailings facilities by site.

In response to a May 2019 request from the Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative, chaired by the Church of England and Swedish Council on Ethics for the AP Funds, Teck provided specific details and information regarding our tailings facilities and our approach to tailings management.This included a detailed list of tailings facilities and details about each. This list was updated in April 2024.

Download Teck's updated Church of England and Swedish Council on Ethics Disclosure list of tailings facilities. 

Focused on Continual Improvement

While we are confident in the safety and security of our tailings facilities, we are committed to continually reviewing our facilities and procedures to maintain the highest standard of safety at our operations. Following the Mt Polley Mine tailings failure in British Columbia and the Samarco and Feijão (Brumadinho) failures in Brazil, we initiated special reviews of our tailings facilities and procedures with specific attention to overall governance and any facilities that may have brittle failure potential (e.g. flow liquefaction). These reviews included external experts who were independent to any aspect of the design or operation of any of our facilities.  The reviews confirmed Teck’s programs to be industry-leading and comprehensive without any concerns of a failure occurring as a result. However, these reviews also identified areas for continual improvement which we have, in turn, embedded into our overall governance program.

In addition to Global Tailings Standard (GISTM), we work in partnership with numerous local, national and international organizations to support improvements in tailings and mine waste management across our industry, including:

  • International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM): A global industry association that represents leading international mining and metals companies. In 2021, ICMM released its Tailings Good Practice Guide which built upon the 2016 Tailings Governance Framework and Position Statement. ICMM also released a Conformance Protocol in 2021 to provide member companies an implementation pathway for the Global Standard noted above (GISTM).  

  • Mining Association of Canada (MAC): A national association that promotes the development of Canada’s mining and mineral processing industry. Through MAC, we implement the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program, which aids in improving industry performance. MAC’s Tailings Management Guideline has been an industry-leading document for more than 20 years and, along with the ICMM Good Practice Guide, has informed Teck’s own best practice for governance and procedures.

  • Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia: As a member company, Teck was a reviewer for the guideline for the requirements of foundation investigations for dams that was issued in 2016.

  • Australian Research Council: In 2017, Teck became part of an applied research program, along with four universities in Australia and several other mining companies, focused on finding more effective tools for predicting and avoiding tailings facility failures.

  • Canadian Dam Association: As a member of the Association, Teck’s senior technical leaders have provided input to industry guidance on best practices.

Annual Facility Performance Reports

Two people in safety gear overlook a construction site in a mountainous area on a clear day.

Annual Facility Performance Reports (AFPRs), formerly Dam Safety Inspections (DSIs), are one of the measures in place for the safe management of our tailings facilities. AFPRs are conducted each year by a third-party Engineer of Record for mine tailings facilities in order to summarize the past year’s information into a concise review documenting the safe operation, maintenance and surveillance of the facility and to identify and make any recommendations for continual improvement. As described above, these summaries are often required by some of the jurisdictions where Teck operates but Teck takes this approach of performance review and documentation regardless of where a facility is located.