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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: September 19th 2005


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:: BioteQ to Help in Britannia Beach Cleanup

BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. is joining a partnership charged with restoring the Howe Sound environment poisoned by copper mine leachate from the Britannia Beach copper mine.

Seventy years of copper mining at Britannia Beach have exacted a huge toll on the Howe Sound environment. But an ambitious plan to rehabilitate the area as part of a larger tourist, commercial and residential redevelopment has brought in Vancouver's BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. as a member of a Partnerships BC project with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands that could turn Britannia mine's contaminated runoff into a self-sustaining revenue source.

"The only thing leaving the site would be clean water and finished products," said BioteQ CEO Brad Marchant. "You will have a truly sustainable process that will treat that water forever."

BioteQ will be joined by Lockerbie Stanley Inc. and Stantec Consulting Ltd. in the project, which is being spearheaded by EPCOR Water Services Inc. EPCOR won the 21-year contract earlier this year to design, build, finance and operate the Britannia water treatment plant.

BioteQ's technology, which is being used as part of a demonstration project at the treatment plant, is designed to allow for the selective recovery of heavy metals from the contaminated runoff and rainwater that accumulates in Britannia's mine shafts and leaches into the local environment.

As part of the two-stage water treatment project's test run, copper recovered from the contaminated water would be sold to an offsite refinery, Marchant said. Zinc, cadmium and lead would also be removed.

"The cost of running that would be paid for by the value of the metals recovered," Marchant said.

It would also eliminate future liability issues arising from sludge storage.

A second stage of the project would make the sludge usable for bricks, highway dividers, sound barriers and other formed concrete products that could be manufactured on site.

The potential economic spinoffs from BioteQ's technology, according to EPCOR BC's business development manager Karim Kassam, could range from $2 million to over $10 million.

EPCOR's plant is expected to be completed later this year, with any BioteQ additions coming online in 2006.

BioteQ has three of its water treatment plants in operation in North America, with four others in development, including the one at Britannia. It has previously partnered with mining heavyweights Falconbridge Ltd. and Phelps Dodge Corp. and generated positive cash flow from plant operations, with steady improvement in each successive quarter during 2004.

"All in all, BioteQ has successfully commercialized its proprietary water treatment technology and this is attracting the attention of several major mining companies," according to Sara Elford, an analyst with Canaccord Capital who covers BioteQ.

"We are convinced that the commercial opportunity for BioteQ's technology is excellent."




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