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Vol. 15, No. 39 Week of September 26, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

Mining News: Teck lauded for sustainability mining

Dow Jones names miner as global leader in sustainable development, impacts of company’s practices felt at Red Dog, around the globe

Shane Lasley

Mining News

Teck Resources Ltd. won a place in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in September by ranking among the top 10 percent of it peers in the resource industry for its sustainability practices.

By focusing on five areas where it can have a positive impact – safety, environment, community engagement and development, value for its stakeholders and responsible stewardship of its products in society – Teck has risen through the ranks of the Dow Jones sustainability indices.

In 2009, the Vancouver B.C.-based miner earned a position on the DJSI North America ranking, placing in the top 20 percent of the resource industry in North America. This year’s elevation to the World Index highlights the company’s commitment to become a global leader in sustainable mining.

“The DJSI is an important tool for continuous improvement,” Teck CEO Don Lindsay said. “We’ve analyzed our scores each year very carefully, identified areas for development, and really focused on improving them. As a company committed to ongoing development of our sustainable practices, it’s a crucial way for us to benchmark and challenge ourselves every year.”

Minimizing footprint

Mining, by its very nature, has the potential to significantly impact the environment. As part of its focus on sustainability, Teck is working to curtail its effects on the environment, while extracting the minerals needed in today’s world.

“Our aim is to minimize our footprint, mitigate our impacts and after mining operations have ceased, leave behind land that will support productive uses for future generations,” the company wrote in its sustainability report.

To achieve this standard Teck not only focuses on reclaiming the environment immediately impacted by its mining operations, but takes a global perspective.

“Teck’s long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency improvements and the increased use of renewable energy,” Teck Vice President of Corporate Affairs Marcia Smith told Mining News.  “Teck is also actively working to protect biodiversity and conserve nature for future generations.”

An example of this can be found at Teck’s Red Dog Mine in the northwestern-most reaches of Alaska. When scientists needed a location to study polar bears, the company made room for them at the Chuckchi Sea port facility it uses to export zinc and lead concentrates from the mine.

Red Dog Operations is also working with the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration to install a system at the mine that is part of a larger network of buoys, tidal stations and satellite measurements providing a continuous picture of the state of the ocean and Great Lakes.

Safety is core value

Safety is an important component to any mining company’s sustainability. Teck considers safety one of its core values.

“Of all our core values, the safety and health of our workers and the communities in which we operate is of greatest importance. Our goal is to have everyone going home safe and healthy every day,” Lindsay wrote.

During recent years, Teck has experienced a significant drop in accident frequency. In 2008 the lost time incident rate of the company’s contractors and employees dropped 59 percent over the previous year.

Smith said Teck developed the Courageous Safety Leadership program, a process that challenges people’s beliefs and values and puts into context how important personal commitment and leadership are in reducing incidents. The company not only applies this safety program to its field operations, but also to its executive office workspace as well.

In addition to Courageous Safety Leadership, Red Dog implements a behavioural-based system called Safe Start.

Sustainability at Red Dog

Red Dog is also an example of Teck’s commitment to sustainable development opportunities in local communities.

NANA Regional Corp., the Alaska Native regional corporation that owns the zinc-rich land on which Red Dog is situated, has built a global enterprise boasting 2009 revenues of nearly US$1.3 billion based in large part on its partnership with Teck at the zinc mine.

A total of US$471 million in royalties has been paid to NANA since the agreement was signed in 1982. Teck paid off its capital and operating costs at Red Dog in 2007, which triggered an increase in NANA’s royalties to 25 percent of net profits from the zinc mine. NANA’s interest is bumped up by 5 percent every five years.

Nearly 58 percent of the 550 full-time jobs at Red Dog are filled by NANA shareholders, many of whom have worked their way up to high-level positions at the mine. In addition to employees working directly for Teck, two NANA companies — NANA-Lynden, a joint venture that provides trucking, and NANA Management, which provides housekeeping for the mine — supply additional jobs for residents of the region.

“At Teck’s Red Dog Operations, preference is given to NANA suppliers and US$77 million was spent on locally acquired goods and services in 2009,” Smith told Mining News. “In May of this year, we announced that Teck Alaska will be proceeding with development of the Aqqaluk Deposit at its Red Dog Mine.  This development will increase the longevity of opportunities and benefits for the community.”

Zinc saves kids

Zinc Saves Kids, an International Zinc Association initiative to battle zinc deficiency in children in low-income countries, is one of the largest global sustainability issues in which Teck has become involved. Money raised by this campaign funds UNICEF-supported zinc programs around the world.

In recognition of the importance of this cause, the Clinton Global Initiative – a group started by former President Clinton that includes world leaders and executives and has raised billions for social causes – recently endorsed IZA’s zinc and nutrition initiatives.

It is estimated that 450,000 children under the age of five die annually due to zinc deficiency, and many who survive suffer lifelong repercussions from early childhood micronutrient deficiencies.

“Children are our greatest resource, we can’t allow that millions of them die every year, especially when zinc is part of the solution,” Lindsay said. “I strongly encourage our industry to help solve the global problem of malnutrition by donating to the Zinc Saves Kids campaign.”



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