Swanson, S, Abbott, R, Funk, W, Kirk, L, McKenna, G, Ohlendorf, H & Sandy, T 2011, 'Building stakeholder engagement in sustainable solutions – the strategic advisory panel on selenium management', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & A Beersing (eds), Mine Closure 2011: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 189-196, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1152_87_Swanson
The Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management is a broadly-based group of experts who have achieved success via independent, transparent stakeholder engagement with full collaboration across diverse disciplines. The panel was formed in January 2010 to assist Teck Coal and its stakeholders in finding a sustainable approach to the management of selenium released from Teck’s metallurgical coal mines in south-eastern BC and north-western Alberta. The panel’s charter stipulated that the panel would operate independently and would release a strategic plan for the management of selenium within six months. While part of the panel’s work was highly technical, an equally important activity was active engagement with stakeholders. Selenium is a controversial topic with significant technical uncertainties, and often with strongly held views by potentially affected people (concerning their health or effects on ecosystem services). Past attempts to deal with these uncertainties had not succeeded in producing an acceptable plan for managing selenium loadings to the watershed, which were steadily increasing. Trust among stakeholders was low. The panel used one-on-one meetings, workshops, site visits, and community meetings to reach out to Teck personnel, regulators, First Nations, NGOs, elected officials, and representatives of key stakeholder groups such as fly fishers. The panel’s engagement activities, combined with the release of the strategic plan report without prior review by stakeholders (including Teck) produced a substantial increase in trust and engagement. The rapid acceptance of the report by the CEO of Teck Coal added to that trust. The involvement of stakeholders has continued into the implementation phase, which includes management of selenium at legacy waste dumps, incorporation of new operating procedures at active mines, inclusion of alternative mine and waste management practices for proposed expansions and new mines, and Teck’s continued engagement with a community-based watershed-health advocacy group. The continued engagement of stakeholders is an integral part of Teck’s commitment to sustainable mining. The panel’s experience shows that independent advisory panels can be an effective catalyst for trust-building, especially if their activities truly are governed by sustainability principles.
Abbott, R.M. (2008) Uncommon Cents: Thoreau and the Nature of Business. Green Frigate Books, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
Casey, R. (2005) Results of Aquatic Studies in the McLeod and Upper Smoky River Systems. Alberta Environment. Available on-line:
Dessouki, T.C.E. and Ryan, A. (2010) Water Quality Assessment of the Kootenay, Elk and St. Mary Rivers. Prepared for B.C. Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada. Available on-line:
Golder Associates Ltd (Unpublished Data) Selenium concentrations in water in the Elk Valley downstream of Teck Coal operations.
NRDC (2009) In response to the March 9, 2009 Presidential Memo on Scientific Integrity: Request for Public Comment. Natural Resources Defence Council Submission. Federal Register, Volume 74, No.77. Available on-line:
SAPSM (2010a) Panel Charter. Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management. Available from the Chair of the Panel. firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAPSM (2010b) The Way Forward: A Strategic Plan for the Management of Selenium at Teck Coal Operations. Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management. Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management. Available on-line:
Site/Responsibility Pages/Sustainability Pages/Environment Pages/.
SAPSM (2011) Continuing the Journey: Toward Sustainable Management of Selenium at Teck Coal Operations. Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management. Available from the Chair of the Panel, email@example.com.
SRK Consulting (2008) Selenium Geochemistry and Water Quality Predictions Phase 1 Data Knowledge/Gap Review. SRK Project 1CE003.001. November 2008.
Teck (2008) Sustainability Report. Volume Two. Available on-line:
U.S. GAO (2009) Scientific Integrity. EPA’s Efforts to Enhance the Credibility and Transparency of Its Scientific Processes. Statement of John B. Stephenson, Director Natural Resources and Environment. GAO-09-773T. Available on-line:
U.S. GSA (2010) Preparing Federal Advisory Committee Charters. U.S. General Services Administration. GSA Office of Government-wide Policy, Office of Policy Initiatives. Available on-line:
Union of Concerned Scientists (2010) Ensuring the Independence of Scientific Advisory Committees. Available on-line: