As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, Teck is committed to helping solve the global health challenge of zinc deficiency. Teck’s Zinc & Health program partners with international organizations to scale up both short- and long-term solutions to zinc deficiency, including therapeutic zinc for the treatment of childhood diarrhea, zinc supplementation, food fortification and crop nutrition.
Summary of Commitments
Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human health. It is crucial for growth and brain development and helps fight dangerous infections, especially in children. Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods and is best consumed through a diversified diet. Sadly, zinc deficiency affects two billion people worldwide and contributes to the death of nearly 450,000 children under five years old.
Teck is Canada’s largest diversified resource company and one of the world’s largest producers of zinc. Teck’s Zinc & Health program, launched in 2011, seeks to implement long-term, sustainable solutions to reduce deaths of children under five and accelerate progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The challenge the world faces is not producing more zinc. It is getting zinc into the diets of people who need it most. This requires greater awareness, government advocacy, enhanced distribution channels, social marketing and education. To date, Teck’s Zinc & Health programs and partnerships have reached nearly 140 million people worldwide.
Therapeutic zinc is a simple and inexpensive treatment for diarrhea, which kills 1,500 children every day. Teck is a founding member of the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH), a $29 million partnership with UNICEF, the Government of Canada and the Micronutrient Initiative that aims to scale up access to zinc for the treatment of childhood diarrhea in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya and India and Senegal. To date, more than 44 million children have received life-saving zinc tablets and more than 60,000 community health care workers have been trained to strengthen health systems. In 2017, we continue our collaborative efforts to expand coverage of zinc and oral rehydration salt (ORS) treatments, train front line workers on diarrhea management and educate parents on prevention and treatment.
Zinc deficiency affects half of the world’s agricultural soils and has a significant impact on crop productivity and crop nutritional value. The link between zinc-deficient soils and zinc deficiency in humans is especially prevalent in developing countries where staple crops such as cereal grains are the main source of dietary nutrients. Adding zinc to fertilizer has been demonstrated to increase crop output, food security and the nutritional quality of the crops. Since 2011, Teck has supported China’s Ministry of Agriculture and the International Zinc Association to carry out more than 120 field trials in China to demonstrate the benefits of adding zinc to fertilizer, as well as national workshops and training courses for farmers. Our crop trial research has found that zinc fertilizer increased crop yields by an average of 8% and increased the nutritional content of zinc in grains by an average of 20%. The research also found that zinc fertilizer improved nitrogen fertilizer uptake and increased economic returns for farmers. By reaching our target of increasing zinc usage in fertilizer by 20,000 tons in 2016, more than 6 million additional children in China saw improved zinc nutrition in their diet.
While a discussion about zinc at Teck often includes commodity prices, customers and markets, Zinc & Health is about raising awareness, improving nutrition and helping get zinc to the people who need it most.