Copper producer Teck released a Climate Change Outlook Report outlining its commitment to reach net-zero operations by 2050. Teck outlined three phases to achieve its targets, progressively shifting its operations to focus on sustainable metals like copper. In doing so, Teck will not only reduce its own carbon emissions but also help to enable a low-carbon world.
As a 100 percent recyclable material, copper is a sustainable resource that is essential to the green energy transition and is used in everything from renewable energy production and electric vehicles to energy-efficient homes and energy storage. Recognizing copper’s potential as a building block for a greener future, Teck has committed to shifting its portfolio to focus on copper production. By concentrating on low-carbon metals, Teck aims to continue as a partner in the fight against climate change.
“Teck is taking significant steps to address climate change risks because we know all sectors, including mining, need to play an active role in contributing to solving the challenge of climate change.” – Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs at Teck
Teck’s Sustainability Strategy
The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI 2020; World and North America) ranked Teck as the top mining company and second in the industry for climate strategy. Since 2011, Teck has already reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 414,000 tonnes across operations. Teck’s Climate Change Outlook report outlines the next steps for the company and how it will employ its climate strategy to meet its net-zero goals.
“As part of an update to our broader sustainability strategy in 2020, we set an ambitious, long-term goal to become a carbon-neutral operator by 2050. To realize this vision, we have set an initial road map with corresponding 2025 and 2030 goals, including procuring 50 percent of our electricity demands in Chile from clean energy by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.” – Donald R. Lindsay, President and CEO at Teck
Teck’s copper assets also rank in the top 10 percent globally for carbon performance, but to meet its net-zero goals, the company is continuing to optimize ongoing operations to increase the sustainability of its production processes. The Quebrada Blanca (QB2) copper mine project in the Tarapacá Region of northern Chile is set to lead Teck’s portfolio transition to a copper-led strategy. In 2020, Teck’s copper mines in Canada, Chile and Peru, in addition to other development projects in the Americas, produced 276,000 tonnes of copper, accounting for 27 percent of Teck’s revenue and 44 percent of its gross profit. The QB2 project is set to double Teck’s copper production by 2023.
Teck’s commitment to low-carbon processes means a switch to renewables. As an initial step, 50 percent of the energy for the QB2 copper project will be sourced from renewables starting in 2022. Teck has also committed to renewable energy sourcing at its other operations. At the Carmen de Andacollo copper mine in Andacollo, Chile, Teck entered into a long-term agreement to use 100 percent renewable energy sources to power its operations, eliminating nearly 80 percent of the mine’s operating emissions, which will move the mine into the 96th percentile for emissions by 2031. These two changes alone will save one million tonnes of carbon emissions annually—the equivalent of taking 210,000 cars off the road.
Teck has worked to reduce carbon emissions from its mining fleets, particularly its above-ground vehicles that present a more significant challenge due to longer operating times and need greater power. To do so, Teck is looking to electrification. The company continues to participate in the International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles Initiative, which partners 28 leading mining companies and 19 equipment manufacturers to develop a technology roadmap for greener mining equipment. A core goal of the initiative is to develop GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.
Teck has already deployed several pilot projects for electric equipment. At its Highland Valley Copper operations in Canada, Teck conducted trials on electric boom trucks for underground operations, proving battery-powered vehicles could be both a sustainable and practical solution to Teck’s low-carbon goals. At the site, the company has also developed an electric concentrate truck to pilot the suitability of replacing concentrate transportation from rail with electric vehicles. Teck has initiated several electric crew bus schemes at various operations and is working to integrate automation into its electrification goals. Through automation of advanced analytics and digital systems connected with electric vehicles, Teck is considering larger fleets of smaller zero-emissions vehicles that to ensure reliable production and reduce emissions. By pairing its electrification goals with a renewable energy supply, the company aims to reduce carbon emissions at its operations, guaranteeing sustainable production.
“We are working to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, while at the same time rebalancing our portfolio towards copper, which is an essential metal for low-carbon technology and infrastructure.” – Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs at Teck
Preparing for a Low-Carbon Economy
Teck’s longer-term strategies are focused on enabling the energy transition to a low-carbon world both within and outside of the company. The Climate Change Outlook Report outlines three different scenarios for global climate change developed by the International Energy Agency and Teck’s strategy for adaptation. In every scenario, copper is at the center of Teck’s approach.
Citing copper’s unique properties and essentiality to the energy transition, Teck expects demand for copper to grow. While 30 percent of copper is recycled globally, recycled copper alone will not be enough to meet the demand of an energy-conscious world. More than 65 percent of copper worldwide is used for electrical applications. Copper is also a key part of electrifying transportation, with battery electric vehicles using two to three times more copper than traditional combustion vehicles.
Likewise, this propensity for efficiency makes copper an ideal choice for energy transfer and storage, a key component of renewable energy. Solar and wind power generation also require more copper than traditional thermal power. Teck’s report cites multiple energy generation technologies that require copper, such as wind, solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, hydropower, geothermal power, energy storage, carbon capture and storage and many more.
In the long-term, Teck intends to focus on copper production to enable the myriad of opportunities presented by copper’s unique properties. After the QB2 mine doubles Teck’s copper production by 2023, Teck expects the mine to become one of the top 20 global copper producers. The QB2 project is one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper resources.
With more than ten years of experience in achieving GHG target reduction, Teck is committed to reducing its carbon emissions in line with the 1.5°C goals of the Paris Agreement. The company set benchmarks for 2030, aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 33 percent below 2020 performance. To achieve this goal, the company aims to procure 50 percent of its electricity demands in Chile from renewables by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030. The company has begun development of a Carbon Reduction Technology Roadmap, which will examine site-level net-zero plans in 2021 and 2022. In addition, Teck aims to adopt zero-emission alternatives for transportation, displacing the equivalent of 1,000 internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025. To do so, Teck purchased electric pit buses, conducted feasibility and scope studies for electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles and engaged with industry partners and manufacturers on developing zero-emission mining fleets.
Teck is committed to promoting its values through its work with its value chain partners. Teck has increased its use of recycled materials and carbon capture technologies and is actively working with the Canadian Carbonization Research Association to reduce carbon emissions in other areas of production, such as steelmaking.
Through its wholistic approach and forward-looking policies, Teck will make a significant contribution to the copper industry with its net-zero commitments. By focusing on copper production and committing to renewable energy and electrification, the company will not only reduce its own carbon emissions but also provide the world with the building blocks of a low-carbon future.
About Teck Resources Ltd.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Teck is Canada’s largest diversified resource firm. Dedicated to responsible mining and mineral development across jurisdictions, it has a major focus on copper, in addition to steelmaking coal, zinc and energy. Teck has four operating copper mines in Canada, Chile and Peru, and copper development projects in North and South America.
About the International Copper Association
The International Copper Association (ICA) brings together the global copper industry to develop and defend markets for copper and make a positive contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., ICA has offices in three primary regions: Asia, Europe and North America. ICA and its Copper Alliance® partners are active in more than 60 countries worldwide.