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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: November 4th 2008


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:: BioteQ Starts Commissioning New Plant in Colorado

BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Inc. a leader in the treatment of metal and sulphate contaminated water, has commenced commissioning of a new water treatment plant at the former Wellington Oro silver-zinc mine site near Breckenridge, Colorado. The plant will remove cadmium and zinc from mine drainage, and is designed to process approximately 300 million litres of water annually. The project is a plant sale to the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County, and the Town of Breckenridge Water Division will operate the plant following a training period supervised by BioteQ. BioteQ has been responsible for design, engineering, commissioning and operator training. The plant applies proven technology that has now been implemented at 8 plants located at mine sites in 5 countries. The Wellington Oro site is a closed silver-zinc mine that was the largest in Summit County between the 1880's and the 1930's. The water draining from 12 miles of tunnels, adits, drifts, stopes and crosscuts is contaminated with zinc, lead and cadmium. The mine ceased operation in 1972 and was later identified as a site for potential Superfund listing by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Town of Breckenridge and Summit County purchased the site as part of an 1,800 acre open space plan. The goal of the mine cleanup is to lower the concentration of dissolved metals in the Blue River downstream of French Creek, to meet Colorado Water Quality Standards and protect the brown trout fishery.

The BioteQ process for water treatment and metal recovery was selected in 2005 by the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department, the Town of Breckenridge, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) as the best available technology to remove dissolved cadmium and zinc from mine drainage produced at the Wellington Oro site. The process was selected because of its ability to produce treated water that meets very strict water quality criteria for metal content while generating no solid waste sludge that requires special disposal.

In the past, a lime plant would have been installed to treat the acid water, which would have produced a heavy metal laden sludge product. Lime plant sludge would require special disposal and ongoing management, and create an environmental legacy at the site. BioteQ’s proven technology is being used instead of lime treatment because BioteQ’s process removes the dissolved metals from the water in a form that can potentially be sent to a conventional refinery and recycled to make useful products. The process produces clean water that can be safely discharged to the environment. The plant was designed by BioteQ, with all the detailed civil, mechanical and electrical engineering provided by the Denver office of Stantec Inc. Construction was managed by the Town of Breckenridge, with general contracting provided by Base Building Solutions, a local construction company. Mechanical work was carried out by Denver-based Bosco Mechanical, and electrical work was done by locally based Design Electrical Contractors. With plant construction substantially complete, BioteQ has commenced commissioning, which involves testing the plant components and process controls. Water will be recycled within the plant until it meets strict treatment specifications for water quality prior to discharge to the environment.

BioteQ’s ChemSulphide® technology is a sulphide precipitation process that removes dissolved metals from contaminated water. The process produces treated water that is safe for discharge to the environment, and a saleable metal product that can potentially be shipped to a refinery.




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