October 2nd, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 40
Teck Continuing Innovation with Water Quality Treatment
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles Photo
Photo Desc
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
Teck is revolutionizing the way they treat water.

At their current operations in Line Creek, Teck is using a water quality treatment facility that takes the water affected by the mining in the area and removes selenium and nitrate from the creek.

The reason for needing treatment facilities is that waste rock is generated when mining the coal.

The waste rock is then stored in large dumps.

Water will then travel through these dumps and picks up substances like selenium and nitrate as it goes along.

The water then enters into the watershed after passing through the rock dumps, which can harm the water quality if there are high enough concentrations of selenium and nitrate left over.

The current treatment facility at Teck’s West Line Creek operations is able to treat six million litres of water per day.

The way the water is treated in the plant is quite complex.

There are multiple steps that are taken to ensure there is as much selenium and nitrate removed as possible.
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Throughout the process, there is a biological treatment that is able to convert the dissolved forms of selenium into a solid state.

That selenium is then taken and disposed of safely in a secure onsite facility.

As for the left-over nitrate, it gets converted into nitrogen gas and is safely released after that process.

The water is then pumped back out of the facility.

Dean Runzer, General Manager, Water Quality Management, says the water is then monitored before being released back into the watershed.
“The water coming out of the plant comes up through a buffer pond, which has 24 hours of residence time so it gives you enough time to measure the water coming out of the plant to make sure it meets all the proper qualities before it’s released back into the creek.”

Teck is continuing to run pilot tests with this technology to see if they can enhance it further and increase the amount of water being treated on a daily basis.

New research has provided Teck with a second and more effective way of removing selenium and nitrate from water.
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Teck has developed a new form of water treatment using Saturated Rock Fills (SRF).

The first SRF has been commissioned at Teck’s Elkview operations and is achieving near complete removal of selenium and nitrate with 95 per cent removal of the substances.

The SRF’s work by refilling mined out areas with rock which are then flooded with water.

Once that process has been completed, naturally occurring biological processes are enhanced with the addition of more nutrients which increases the rate and amount of selenium and nitrate removal by bacteria found in the rock.

Once the nitrate and selenium are removed from the water, it is pumped back up from under the fill and is released into the watershed with near entire removal of the substances.

The SRF is able to pump through roughly 10 million litres of water on a daily basis and Teck is working to expand that capacity to 20 million litres.

Runzer says Teck believes this is the future of water treatment.

“We recognize that active water treatment facilities are quite complex so in line with continuous improvement in our research and development program with looking at alternative treatment technologies, SRF's are showing a lot of promise.”

The amount of promise showing means that more of these SRF’s will be used at other operations but there are still limits to where it will work.

“It can only occur where we've dug a pit. We can't just build them where we want them. Right now, we have the one at Elkview which we can expand and then we're looking at future pits being minded out where we can develop them. There's another big one at Fording River that will have a lot of capacity. There's probably four or five. One really at each operation that will be able to achieve the capacity we need for long term water treatment,” said Runzer.

If people would like to learn more about the water quality treatment being done by Teck, there will be an open house held at the Fernie Seniors Center on October 29th from 5:30-8:00pm.
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October 2nd, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 40
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