Teck hails water quality research milestone
Teck announced Monday that a new form of water treatment developed through its water quality research and development (R&D) program is proving successful in treating large volumes of water to remove selenium and nitrate.
The Saturated Rock Fill (SRF) facility at Teck Elkview Operations, commissioned in January, is achieving near-complete removal of selenium and nitrate in 10 million litres of mine-affected water per day. SRFs are a new form of water treatment that has the potential to augment or replace traditional treatment technology, the company noted in a media release.
“The Saturated Rock Fill is the result of our ongoing investment in leading-edge research and development to find new and better ways to protect water quality in the Elk Valley,” said Robin Sheremeta, Senior Vice President, Coal. “Teck is committed to meeting the objectives of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan, and breakthroughs like the SRF will help us do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first facility of its kind in the world,” said Dr. M. Jim Hendry of Hendry Geosciences Inc., an aqueous and environmental geochemist who worked on the project. “Based on the very positive results of this field-scale experiment, saturated rock fills can be considered an option for treating large volumes of mine waters.”
“Teck deserves a lot of credit for the speed at which SRF technology went from concept to full scale,” said Daryl Hockley, Practice Leader in the GeoEnvironmental Engineering Division of SRK Canada. “They clearly see the need for new options to treat water in the Elk Valley, and they didn’t hesitate to make the investments required to move this technology ahead.”
The SRF uses naturally occurring biological processes in water collected in former mining areas to treat and improve water quality. The Elkview SRF was constructed at a total cost of $41 million, and is now exceeding the 7.5 million litres/day design capacity of Teck’s West Line Creek Active Water Treatment Facility.
SRFs have the potential to augment or replace traditional active water treatment technology at approximately one-sixth the capital cost and half the ongoing operating cost.
“There are many other things to like about SRF’s including taking existing disturbed areas and put them to a very good use, relying on processes that occur naturally in the ground and stabilizing selenium back in the rock where it came from,” Hockley added.
Going forward, work on the SRF will focus on proving out the results of the Elkview facility and working towards potential broader implementation of SRFs.
Teck currently has more than 20 R&D projects underway related to water quality in the Elk Valley, including projects to better control release of water quality constituents at source and to develop new water treatment methods.