EPCOR delivers heavy metal solution for B.C.'s Britannia Mine
EPCOR and the British Columbia government open the Britannia Mine Water Treatment Facility, which is ending contamination from one of North America's largest sources of heavy metal pollution. The new Britannia Beach facility will prevent thousands of tons of heavy metal contaminants from entering Howe Sound, including 166,000 kilograms of copper a year -- equal to 70 million pennies. On B.C.'s Sea-to-Sky highway north of Vancouver, the treatment facility was completed on-time and on-budget...
• New water treatment plant ending 100 years of environmental contamination in B.C.'s Howe Sound.
EDMONTON, Canada, June 5, 2006 -- EPCOR and the Government of British Columbia have opened the Britannia Mine Water Treatment Facility, which is ending contamination from one of North America's largest sources of heavy metal pollution. The new Britannia Beach facility will prevent thousands of tonnes of heavy metal contaminants from entering the ocean environment of Howe Sound, including 166,000 kilograms of copper per year - the equivalent of 70 million pennies. Located on B.C.'s Sea-to-Sky highway, 55 kilometres north of Vancouver, the treatment facility was completed on-time and on-budget.
The Britannia Mine operated for over 70 years. Exposure of the mine's excavations to air and water resulted in acid rock drainage, a mild sulphuric acid solution that leached heavy metals from the mine. Rain and snow-melt carried these contaminants into Howe Sound, causing serious environmental damage to a large area of the ocean environment below the mine. The Britannia Mine Water Treatment Facility is now treating an average of 12 million litres of water per day, removing heavy metals including, aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc.
"Today is World Environment Day and I can think of no better way to celebrate as the Province, in partnership with EPCOR, moves one step closer to reaching its goal of being the world leader in sustainable environmental management with the best air and water quality and the best fisheries management bar none," said Minister of Agriculture and Lands Pat Bell. "Not only did the EPCOR-led team deliver an effective environmental solution, this unique partnership protected B.C. taxpayers from the cost-increases common in today's construction industry."
EPCOR financed the project and led an expert team during the design and construction of the $15.5 million facility. This team included Stantec, Lockerbie Stanley Inc., Canadian Environmental and Metallurgical Inc., and BioteQ. As part of the agreement, EPCOR will operate the facility for 20 years.
"EPCOR is applying 100 years of water treatment expertise to the Britannia Water Treatment Plant, and our expertise at working with public and private partners," said Dr. Steve Stanley, Senior Vice President of EPCOR Water Services. "The same commitment that allowed us to construct the plant on-time and on-budget will now be directed toward achieving our performance standards and restoring environment in the Britannia area."
Highlights of the Britannia Mine Water Treatment Facility
The Britannia Mine and acid rock drainage
• The Britannia Mine was once the largest copper producers in the British Empire.
• During the mine's 70 years of operations, five open pits and 80 kilometres of underground workings were excavated.
• When exposed to oxygen and water, the mine's sulphur bearing rocks produce a mild sulphuric acid solution. The acid leaches metals from the mine.
• The heavy metals in the mine water are toxic to the marine life on the foreshore and to juvenile salmon which use the area for feeding.
The Britannia Mine Water Treatment Plant
• EPCOR is using a high density lime process to capture and precipitate heavy metals from the mine water in a chemically stable form.
• The facility is designed to capture and remove over 600,000 kgs of heavy metals annually, including aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc.
• During the treatment process, the acidity of the mine water will be will neutralized.
• A micro-turbine driven by the mine's continual run-off will generate electricity for the plant, enhancing the project's overall level of sustainability.
A unique partnership
• EPCOR was selected by the B.C. Government for this project following a competitive process.
• As part of this agreement, EPCOR assumed the risks for construction, operations, maintenance and repair costs related to the plant.
• EPCOR was required to have the facility completed within one year. The project was treating water eight months after the project agreement was signed.
• EPCOR must meet a number of performance measures or face penalties. For example, EPCOR must meet the treatment criteria for the removal of contaminants established by the province.
• The overall net present value of the treatment facility is $27.2 million. Over the 20-year contract period, this project is expected save B.C. taxpayers more than $10 million had the facility been delivered solely by the Province.
• Through this partnership, the B.C. Government and EPCOR have delivered an effective solution to a serious environmental issue, while supporting innovation and accountability.
EPCOR Utilities Inc. (www.epcor.ca) builds, owns and operates power plants, electrical transmission and distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure in Alberta, Ontario/U.S Northeast, and British Columbia/U.S. Pacific Northwest. EPCOR has been named one of Canada's Top 100 employers for six consecutive years, and is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta.