Pressure builds on Teck Resources CEO

Teck's Elkview project in southeastern British Columbia. Credit: Teck Resources.Teck's Elkview project in southeastern British Columbia. Credit: Teck Resources.

Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A/TECK.B; NYSE: TCK), Canada’s largest diversified miner, is facing pressure from investors who want the company to divest its energy and coal business and replace long-standing chief executive officer, Don Lindsay.

Connecticut-based Impala Asset Management has emerged this week as the second investor in a month to criticize Lindsay’s guidance. In excerpts of a letter to the miner’s board, published by Bloomberg, the firm blames Teck’s CEO for what it calls “destruction of shareholder value.”

Impala also claims that Lindsay receives one of the biggest paychecks in the industry — $9.2 million (US$6.6 million), including $1.64 million in salary last year.

Impala’s claims add to Tribeca Investment Partners’ recent concerns. The Australian hedge fund shareholder said in April that investors should push Teck to become a pure base metals miner.

The move, it said, would improve Teck’s environmental credentials and could lead to a six-fold share gain over the next year.

Tribeca also said the Vancouver-based miner should oust Lindsay and scrap its dual-class shares to boost returns.

Earlier this month, Teck seemed to have taken its first step in this direction by leaving the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The industry organization’s members represent about 80% of the country’s oil and gas production.

Teck spokesman Chris Stannell said at the time that the decision was made as part of a cost-cutting drive, noting the membership annual cost is close to about $135,000.

Oilsands and coal

In February, Teck officially withdrew its application to build the $20.6-billion (US$15.7 billion) Frontier oilsands mine, just days before the Canadian government was slated to make a decision on the 260,000-barrel-per-day project in northern Alberta.

The company remains a big player in the oilsands sector, however, as it owns 21.3% of the Fort Hills oilsands mine, operated by partner Suncor Energy (TSX:SU; NYSE: SU).

The miner has also set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by 2030. The announcement builds on a previous commitment to be carbon neutral across all operations and activities by 2050.

Teck’s sustainability strategy also includes goals to procure 50% of its electricity demands in Chile from clean energy by 2020 and 100% by 2030 and accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions alternatives for transportation by displacing the equivalent of 1,000 internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025.

This week, however, news of the U.S. government growing reportedly concerned about pollution from coal mines in British Columbia, where Teck’s steelmaking coal operations are located, emerged.

According to The Canadian Press, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is demanding the B.C. government explain why the company’s coal mines are being allowed to exceed guidelines for a toxic heavy metal.

Teck had previously said, in response to similar claims, that it had earmarked more than $1 billion to clean up its effluent by 2024, adding that selenium levels should start to drop by the end of this year.

— This article, with files from Bloomberg, first appeared in our sister publication,


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