Our Code of Sustainable Conduct emphasizes the company’s commitment to act in a respectful way and foster dialogue and collaborations with Communities of Interest (COIs). The Environment, Health, Safety and Community Management Standards (EHSCMS) provide Operations with guidance on working with communities, including requirements for identifying stakeholders/COIs and issue management, establishing mechanisms for understanding community concerns, working with local and indigenous peoples, procuring locally-sourced goods and services (where applicable) and engaging COIs who we may impact or who have the potential to impact our activities, in an inclusive and appropriate manner for all parties.
Working with communities before, during and after project completion
It is essential that we engage with local communities. Whether we are directly within the community or in a remote location, as a mining company we always operate in an area used by a COI. Therefore, it is our responsibility to acknowledge and minimize our potential impacts on COIs prior to, during operation, and after mine closure.
This is an important GRI indicator, especially as poor community engagement and ignoring our social impact poses numerous risks. This is why we consistently assess how our effect on host communities to ensure that we do not adversely impact peoples’ capacities to care for themselves and their families. It is particularly vital in remote communities that we provide people with skills training in alternative livelihoods to empower and enable them beyond the limitations of the mining project cycle.
An effective engagement strategy reduces the risk of forfeiting our social and environmental licenses to operate. It can also mitigate the risk of incorrect information spreading across communities. Our strategy to avoid such scenarios includes:
- Providing sufficient and meaningful information early in the mining cycle and in a way that resonates with COIs
- Building a common understanding of the basics of our activities and current Operations, which often requires the building of understanding around technical terminology
- Ensuring inclusive engagement including minority groups, women, marginalized and vulnerable groups, or those who do not have the opportunity to raise concerns
We will continue to develop our understanding of impacts to COIs early on in our activities. Our key strategies will include delegating appropriate people to these activities, and providing mechanisms and methodologies to engage effectively and ensure accountability through documentation.
Many of these practices were implemented in a particularly successful community engagement program established at a Teck exploration project in Turkey.
Prior to entering a community:
A high level of due diligence and scoping studies (e.g., social, legal, economic, environmental) are often completed. Once the exploration team has entered the area, social and environmental baseline and impact assessment studies are conducted, many of which are mandatory for permitting processes as per host country and/or international requirements. Social scientists use a variety of methodologies to gather this information.
While operating in the community:
Case Example: Ensuring Safe Blood Lead Levels in Trail
At our Trail Operations, as part of the program to assess and manage the impacts of fugitive metal-bearing dust on community health, ambient air lead levels in the community and the lead blood levels in children age 6 to 60 months are regularly measured and monitored. The percentage of results within certain ranges is tracked year-over-year to assess trends and to gauge the effects of mitigating actions and climatic and operational variances. The families of children with elevated levels receive assistance and advice in lead exposure reduction from a community health nurse with the Interior Health Authority.
While making decisions to exit the community:
Mine closure planning is a requirement for all of our Operations. The Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., has been recognized as ‘best practice’ in mine closure planning. In 2005, just four years after mine closure, the city tax base has shifted from industrial to resort and residential and a new economy is emerging, partly as a result of the joint efforts of the Sullivan mine and local stakeholders.
The Red Dog mine closure plan is another example of a participatory process with the community to assist in the development of a comprehensive and consultative mine closure plan.
Case Example: Co-creation of a mine closure plan at Red Dog mine
In April and June of 2006, two independent workshops were convened with over 100 participants, including NANA region members, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), mine staff and consultants. Attendees reviewed information related to ecological risks and technical options for the selection of the preferred closure methods for mine facilities, specifically, the tailings pond, open pits, and waste rock facilities. “Our ability to make informed decisions today will impact not only our future, but the future of generations to come,“ observed Roland Ashby, NANA elder and June workshop participant. “We are evaluating mine closure solutions which will be in place for the next 100 years or more, and preferred solutions will protect our Arctic wildlife such as caribou, fox and ptarmigan and the quality of our water. Everyone is at the table with eyes and ears open to the options.”
Scientists worked for more than three years prior to the workshops to assess current and post-closure impacts of lead, cadmium and zinc on wildlife species. Moreover, engineers reviewed over 100 closure methods in order to identify the top four to five methods for each of the tailings and mine area facilities. Workshop participants considered research findings and systematically reviewed the top closure methods in light of environmental, socioeconomic and physical criteria.
“The true value of a workshop like this is that the combined experience of both scientific and indigenous knowledge creates new insights for the selection of the best closure solutions,” noted Gary Coulter, Project Manager and Manager of EHS Management Systems at Teck. “The inclusion of local and traditional knowledge is key to the development of a successful closure plan. For example, subsistence hunters observed that migrating caribou will cause deep ruts to form on any soil covers that we place over the waste rock facilities. Our team will now design a cover system that will be capable of withstanding the wear and tear of migrating caribou.”