Britannia Enhancement Project
Vancouver-based BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. is establishing itself as a leader in the treatment of acid-contaminated water through the use of its patented BioSulphide process and the ChemSulphide process. BioteQ’s technology allows for the selective recovery of valuable metals from contaminated water, while producing treated water that can be discharged to the environment or recycled.
Focused on the mining industry, BioteQ has partnered with leading metal producers on projects to finance, design, build and operate mine site water treatment plants that recover saleable metals in addition to meeting ever-more-strict environmental regulations. These have included Phelps Dodge (Arizona), Breakwater Resources (Caribou, N.B.), Inco (Ontario), Jiangxi Copper (Dexing, China), Aditya Birla (Queensland, Australia), Xstrata (Quebec), Columbia Metals (Sonora, Mexico) as well as utilities operator EPCOR Water Services (Britannia, B.C.).
The Britannia mine, located 50 km north of Vancouver near Squamish, B.C., operated as an underground copper mine from 1905 to 1974. Groundwater flowing through the mine’s abandoned workings combines with oxygen and the high sulphide content of the waste rock, resulting in metal-laden acidic effluent that until 2006 discharged into Howe Sound on the Pacific coast.
To deal with the metal-contaminated discharge, a water treatment plant was designed, built, financed and is being operated as a public-private partnership. This plant is part of a larger clean-up effort being managed by the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management (MSRM). The private partner is EPCOR Water Services Inc., which engaged the expertise of BioteQ as well as Lockerbie Stanley Inc. and Stantec Consulting Ltd. in the design, engineering and construction of this project.
The first stage plant built by EPCOR is a conventional high density sludge (HDS) lime neutralization system, which was commissioned in late 2005 and has been operating for over a year at Britannia. The HDS plant produces treated water for discharge to Howe Sound and a metal-laden sludge product that must be deposited on the site.
Britannia enhancement project
Besides its BioSulphide and ChemSulphide processes, BioteQ has developed a technology to form value-added construction materials from waste sludge produced from HDS plants. The company has completed a pilot demonstration and feasibility study to combine the metal recovery and waste sludge processing technologies for application at the Britannia site. The result is an integrated plant that produces both clean water and value-added saleable co-products.
BioteQ’s technology can provide two main benefits at Britannia: the opportunity to recover metals from the contaminated runoff and turn them into a saleable product; and the reduction of metal concentrations in the runoff going into the lime treatment plant, thereby decreasing the metal content of the resulting sludge.
Installation of a full-scale BioteQ plant at Britannia could have the following environmental and financial advantages:
* reduce overall operating costs by decreasing the lime consumption in the EPCOR plant;
* recover a saleable metal concentrate containing copper, zinc, cadmium, lead and other trace metals, to offset treatment costs as well as recycle the metals for productive use;
* produce a “clean” lime sludge that could be used to form saleable construction materials; this could eliminate the requirement to store sludge in perpetuity as well as provide additional income to offset treatment costs; and
* provide a sustainable treatment solution for the Britannia site.
BioteQ is currently working with the project stakeholders to finalize a plan for implementing the Britannia enhancement project, to incorporate BioteQ’s process technology at the site in 2008.
Brad Marchant, B.Sc., M.A.Sc., is the president and CEO of BioteQ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.