Fording River overshadowed by tailing pond

Teck Resources Limited today announced that Teck Coal Limited (“Teck Coal”) has resolved charges under the Fisheries Act relating to 2012 discharges of selenium and calcite to a mine settling pond and to the Fording River from its Fording River and Greenhills steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley.

The B.C. Provincial Court has accepted a plea of guilty and a joint sentencing submission by the Crown and Teck Coal in relation to two counts charging offences under of the Fisheries Act. As part of the resolution Teck Coal will pay a penalty of $30 million in respect of each offence. The Crown will not proceed with charges relating to the same discharges over the period from 2013 to 2019.

As previously announced in October 2020, Environment and Climate Change Canada has also issued a Direction under the Fisheries Act setting out additional measures to improve water quality and prevent calcite deposition that are complementary to measures already included in the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan that Teck is implementing. More information on the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan is available here.

An Open Letter from Teck President and CEO Don Lindsay:

“Today, Teck reached a resolution of charges under the Fisheries Act in connection with discharges of selenium and calcite from our steelmaking coal operations in the Elk Valley of British Columbia (B.C.) in 2012.

We sincerely apologize and take responsibility for the impacts of these discharges. Everyone at Teck is committed to responsible mining that protects the environment. Which is why, over the nine years since, we have worked hard to solve this challenge and ensure the watershed is sustained for the long term.

Although there has been mining in the Elk Valley for more than 120 years, it was not until 2010-2012 – through independent research commissioned by Teck – that we began to understand the full extent of the impacts of selenium and calcite releases on water and aquatic health in the valley. We learned this was an extremely complex challenge connected to the long history of mining in the region, and that it required an extraordinary response. The Elk Valley is home to thousands of Teck employees and their families, and no one is more committed to solving this challenge than they are.

In 2013, under direction from the Government of B.C. and in consultation with the Ktunaxa Nation, scientists, and local communities, we developed the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan. The plan, approved by the B.C. Government in 2014, is a long-term strategy with the goal of stabilizing and reversing the trend of selenium, calcite and other constituents while improving the health of the watershed.

We’ve invested about $1 billion so far to implement the plan and have constructed cutting-edge water treatment facilities that are successfully removing selenium and calcite from local waterways. We’ve undertaken a monitoring program that is tracking water quality and aquatic health in the Elk Valley and we are sharing the results with government, Indigenous Nations and the public. Further, we’ve implemented a major research and development program that is now conducting some of the most advanced mining-related environmental science anywhere in the world. The plan is adaptive, so as new and better technologies are developed, we will make them part of our approach.

While there has been significant progress since 2012, much more remains to be done. Additional water treatment facilities are under construction now, with more in the planning stages. We plan to further invest up to $655 million over the next four years alone on work to protect the watershed, with even more to come in the years ahead.

To our knowledge, a water quality plan of this size and complexity has never been done before anywhere in the world. It involves complicated science and world-leading environmental technology. It takes time and perseverance – there are no quick fixes. Along the way we have made progress and made mistakes, and we’ve learned from both, always striving to do better. We are committed to meeting this challenge and responsibly maintaining the billions in economic activity and over 15,000 jobs supported by our operations that are so critical to the Elk Valley and to B.C.

Again, to the Ktunaxa First Nation, whose territory we operate on, and to our communities in the Elk Valley, we deeply regret these impacts and we apologize. You have my commitment that we will not waver in our focus on addressing this challenge and working to ensure that the environment is protected for today and for future generations.

Don Lindsay”

We are fortunate in the Elk Valley to have a responsible resource based operator that is addressing this legacy problem and not running away from the issues.

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