Don Lindsay to retire after 17 years as CEO of Canadian mining giant Teck

Don Lindsay, CEO of Vancouver-based Teck Resources, in Vancouver, on June 23.JENNIFER GAUTHIER/The Globe and Mail

Don Lindsay will be retiring in September as Teck Resources Ltd.’s chief executive officer after 17 years at the helm, with Canada’s largest diversified mining company pursuing a strategy designed to attract environmentally conscious investors.

“So it’s tough to say goodbye to a company and to a team that you’ve been a part of this long and that you admire so much. And there is no perfect time,” Mr. Lindsay, 63, said during Teck’s second-quarter conference call on Wednesday with industry analysts. “The fact is a lot of planning and preparation has all led up to this point.”

Vancouver-based Teck has been striving to place a greater emphasis on sustainability, with Mr. Lindsay saying the company is committed to environmental, social and governance initiatives.

One option being explored by Teck is spinning out its 21.3-per-cent stake in the Fort Hills project in northern Alberta’s oil sands, given that some institutional investors shun having holdings in the oil and gas industry. Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. is the operator of Fort Hills and owns a 54.1-per-cent stake, while TotalEnergies SE of France has a 24.6-per-cent interest.

“We’re conscious that there are quite a few investors that cannot buy Teck when we have a certain proportion of our revenues coming from oil sands,” Mr. Lindsay said. “And so that suggests that it should be held in a different way outside of the Teck resources portfolio. We are working on that. And I think you just have to stand by and see what evolves in due course.”

Teck, which set up a succession committee in early 2020, has named Jonathan Price to replace Mr. Lindsay as CEO on Sept. 30. Mr. Price, who joined Teck in October, 2020, from Australia-based mining giant BHP Group Ltd., has served as Teck chief financial officer since late last year.

Mr. Lindsay also holds the title of Teck president. That title and duties will be taken over by Harry (Red) Conger, who became Teck’s chief operating officer in September, 2020, after he left Arizona-based miner Freeport McMoRan Inc.

“We are delighted to have been able to recruit Jonathan and Red in 2020 and, under Don’s leadership, position them for successful advancement into these roles,” Teck chairwoman Sheila Murray said in a statement.

Mr. Lindsay will play an advisory role during the executive succession process, serving as Teck executive vice-chairman into the second quarter of 2023. During his tenure as president and CEO, he has faced criticism from some investors for diversifying into the oil sands and not paying enough attention to nurturing the company’s core mining assets.

Teck announced the NewRange Copper Nickel LLC joint venture last week with PolyMet Mining Corp. for projects in Minnesota in the quest for critical minerals. “From a big-picture point of view at Teck, we are reshaping and rebalancing our portfolio to have a bigger focus on copper and less on carbon,” Mr. Lindsay said.

He said it’s important to have a transition in which Mr. Price will oversee various changes to Teck’s portfolio, which over the years has focused on mining for copper, zinc and metallurgical coal.

High prices for metallurgical coal, a raw material that is used in the steel-making process, helped Teck post a record second-quarter adjusted profit of nearly $1.8-billion, or five times higher than the $339-million for the same period of 2021 .

Prices for metallurgical coal averaged US$453 a tonne in the second quarter, or triple the US$144 a tonne in the year-earlier period. By contrast, average copper prices slipped 2 per cent year over year to US$4.32 a pound, while average zinc prices rose 35 per cent to US$1.78 a pound.

The miner’s revenue in the latest quarter jumped 126 per cent year over year to $5.8-billion.

“Our record financial performance enabled us to strengthen our balance sheet and return significant cash to shareholders during the quarter,” Mr. Price said.

The mining company’s stock price has experienced a roller-coaster ride over the past 20 years. In 2009, China Investment Corp. came to Teck’s rescue as a major investor. China is a large buyer of copper, zinc and metallurgical coal.

Teck’s class B share price rose 2 per cent on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange to close at $34.88. That’s down 39 per cent from its 52-week high last month, but still three times higher than the multiyear lows in March, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began in North America and economic activity sagged.

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