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17 November 2010 | Adam Leach
Canadian mining firm Teck Resources has stepped up its efforts to work with the local community to boost employment and reduce its negative impact on the environment.
The company, which became embroiled in a legal dispute with the US Environment Agency in 2007 over claims that its smelting operation was dangerously polluting the Columbia River, has increased its environmental efforts in recent years.
Figures in its 2009 Sustainability Report show these increased efforts. For example, the company said it has made efforts to deal with the impact of how much water is required for mining operations. This includes the construction of a 27km pipeline to tap into a more appropriate water supply and implement an early alert plan so any problems can be dealt with quickly. This follows concerns from the local community that the original location of ‘El Culebron’ would infringe upon their water supplies.
Teck is also using more local suppliers to demonstrate its commitment to areas surrounding its operations. It said, for example, 90 per cent of supplies to the Pend Oreille mine in Washington State are locally sourced.
The report said: “By maximising local purchasing and local employment whenever possible, we contribute to sustainable development and demonstrate the direct benefits we bring to local communities.”
The sustainability review also outlined the ways in which the company has been working with indigenous people near to its sites. The company has set up discussion panels with local residents to enable them to share concerns and grievances. It has also actively recruited workers from local areas. In the company’s Highland Valley Copper operation, 5 per cent of the workforce is made up of indigenous people, while its Red Dog operation uses 57 per cent indigenous employees.
The company has also implemented a number of policies to increase sustainability at its head office in Vancouver. It is reducing the amount of plastic water bottles used by staff, using composting to get rid of waste and encouraging a power saving competition within its office block, pitting different companies against each other by measuring the power saved by switching off computers.