With over a century of operating experience, Teck has gained a wealth of experience in building our approach to sustainability.
Our relationships with communities are the foundation of our
work in sustainability and, over our long history, our employees
have developed deep connections to the communities in which
we operate. Places like Kimberley, Trail and Elkford in British
Columbia literally grew up around our operations and, over
time, employees became neighbours and neighbours became
communities. Today, in communities like Carmen de Andacollo in
Chile, where our business activities are relatively recent, we are
building new relationships and working collaboratively to address
local priorities. At the same time, we are establishing stronger
relationships with Indigenous Peoples, building on the important
relationships we have already established, creating new ones
and working together to achieve our mutual goals.
In 2011, we reached an important milestone by launching a sustainability strategy that will guide us over the coming years. It sets out our priority areas and the sustainability goals that will bring greater focus to our work. The theme of this report, Taking Root, speaks to the work we are doing to integrate and more fully embed our approach to sustainability across six focus areas: Community, Water, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Energy, Materials Stewardship, and Our People. These focus areas represent the most significant challenges and opportunities facing our company. I have assigned a senior officer to champion and drive progress in each focus area and have taken personal responsibility for our people, as it is the vision and dedication of our people that will allow us to deliver on our goals and advance our sustainability efforts. This report chronicles our initial progress on a series of goals and actions that extend out to 2030.
Putting Teck’s Sustainability Strategy into Action
Since our last report, we have made progress in putting our sustainability strategy into action. Employees throughout the company have been appointed to take the lead in each focus area and are examining our goals, assessing the opportunities and challenges we face, identifying priorities for our operations and projects, and taking action to achieve them.
While communities are the foundation for our work in sustainability, our people are our most important asset and safety is our core value. In 2011, we made notable progress in safety, with Teck achieving the lowest total reportable injury frequency rate in our history – an 18% reduction over the prior year. We also achieved the fewest number of serious incidents on record. In the year ahead, we will continue our Courageous Safety Leadership program, which is designed to create awareness and place responsibility for safety in the hands of every employee and contractor who works with us. In addition, I have set an objective for 2012 to put new emphasis on our employees’ personal health and its contribution to achieving our objective of everyone going home safe and healthy every day.
Mining relies on large amounts of water and water, stewardship is a priority for Teck. In 2011, we piloted several projects at our steelmaking coal operations with the goal of reducing selenium levels in watersheds downstream from our operations. In Chile, in order to reduce demands on the region's limited supplies of fresh water, we made the decision to use ocean water as the source of supply for our Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project in order to reduce demands on the region’s limited supplies of fresh water. In 2012, we are devoting a significant effort to a company-wide water strategy, focused both on our performance at our operations and on community investments.
We have also made significant progress in our other focus areas. Notably, we made a $210 million investment at Trail Operations to considerably increase our capacity to recycle end-of-life electronic waste (e-waste). This investment will keep more post-consumer e-waste out of landfills, putting our materials stewardship principles into practice and significantly reducing the life cycle impacts of electronics.
In advancing our energy goals, four of our steelmaking coal operations in B.C. increased their use of natural gas as the primary energy source to dry their product. This significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with the drying process. In November, the Wintering Hills Wind Power Project in Alberta, our first investment in wind power, also moved into full production, moving us closer to our vision for energy.
Our work in ecosystems and biodiversity aims to achieve our vision of having a net positive impact on biodiversity in areas where we operate. To achieve this, one of our goals is to identify and implement biodiversity improvement and conservation opportunities. To that end, we worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Ktunaxa Nation and local communities to acquire a 127-hectare parcel of land located on the east shore of Columbia Lake in British Columbia. This land provides key habitat for bighorn sheep, elk and a number of rare and endangered species. The land, which is near the headwaters of the Columbia River system, also includes important wetlands that are part of the longest uninterrupted wetland in North America. The land also has important cultural values for the Ktunaxa First Nation.
Working Collaboratively to Create Sustainable Value
Our focus on sustainability is an important facet of the way we do business. Our approach is supported by our Charter of Corporate Responsibility and our participation in sustainability-focused organizations. These include the International Council on Mining and Metals with its 10 Sustainable Development Framework, and the Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, which we have applied across all of our operations.
We are building partnerships and capacity to confront sustainability issues within the regions in which we operate and at the global level. For example, as one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, we recognize the role we can play in addressing the global health challenge of zinc deficiency in humans and in soils. In partnership with organizations such as the International Zinc Association, UNICEF, the Micronutrient Initiative and the Government of Canada, we are providing resources to increase the use of zinc supplements through two initiatives Zinc Saves Kids and the Zinc Alliance for Child Health. We have also signed an agreement with BASF, the world’s largest diversified chemical company, to fortify foods with zinc in order to reduce zinc deficiency in people in developing countries. In addition, we formed a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in the People's Republic of China to undertake further studies on the use of zinc in fertilizer to increase crop yields, reduce zinc deficiency and ultimately improve human health. Looking ahead, we will continue to work with the international community to help save and sustain the lives of children in developing countries.
Working with expert organizations allows us to leverage and combine our strengths and enhances our ability to address sustainability issues. In 2011, we accepted the invitation to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact LEAD initiative, a sustainability leadership platform uniting over 50 companies from around the world to achieve higher levels of sustainability performance, impact and action.
Teck’s overall performance in sustainability through actions such as these was recognized in 2011 when we were appointed to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) for the second year in a row, indicating that our sustainability practices rank in the top 10% of companies in the resource industry worldwide. While we are pleased to again be appointed to the DJSI, we recognize that our work in sustainability must continue to take root and grow.
Our capacity to contribute to sustainability depends on our ability to successfully carry on our business as a diversified natural resource company. In 2011, we set a number of operational and financial records, including record revenues of $11.5 billion, record gross profit before depreciation and amortization of $5.8 billion and record cash flow from operations of $4.0 billion. As Teck continues to grow, we will work to create a strong culture within our company of considering people, communities and the environment, now and in the future, with every decision we make.
For over a century, our people have been working to build vibrant, healthy communities around our operations while being responsible stewards of the environment. As a company that operates within a global community, it is our responsibility to reflect that same spirit wherever we are active in contributing to a more sustainable world.
Donald R. Lindsay
President and Chief Executive Officer