Teck Resources provided an overview and update on its Elk Valley water management programme in its 2014 First Quarter News Release. The water management programme to date has focused in two main areas: development of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan under an Area Based Management Plan Order from the Government of British Columbia (BC); and construction of the West Line Creek water treatment plant at its Line Creek operations.
Elk Valley Water Quality Plan
The Elk Valley Water Quality Plan is intended to address the management of selenium, as well as other substances released by mining activities throughout the watershed in the short, medium and long term. The plan will establish water quality targets, which are protective of the environment and human health, while considering social and economic factors.
The plan is being informed by scientific advice received from a Technical Advisory Committee chaired by the BC Ministry of Environment and including representatives from Teck, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Montana, the Ktunaxa Nation, other provincial and federal agencies and an independent scientist, as well as public consultation. The development of the plan is progressing satisfactorily and it is expected to be complete and submitted to the BC Ministry of Environment in the third quarter of 2014.
A previous draft valley-wide selenium management action plan contemplated total capitals pending of up to CAN$ 600 million over a five year period, including the CAN$ 120 million spent to date on the West Line Creek plant, for the installation of water diversion and treatment facilities. The estimated capital and operating costs of implementing the new Elk Valley Water Quality Plan are not yet known but are expected to vary from those outlined in the previous draft. The final costs will depend on the water quality targets established in the plan, as well as the technologies applied to manage selenium and other substances. The initial cost estimate in the previous plan assumed the application of biological treatment technology, which is currently being installed in the West Line Creek plant. This facility is progressing satisfactorily towards the start of commissioning in Q2 2014.
Water plan uncertainty could hit production
Teck’s work on the new Elk Valley Water Quality Plan is expected to result in revised cost estimates by the end of 2014. The company expects that, in order to maintain water quality, water treatment will need to continue for an indefinite period after mining operations end. Ongoing work could reveal technical issues or advances associated with potential treatment technologies, which could substantially increase or decrease both capital and operating costs associated with water quality management. Delays in obtaining approval of the plan could result in consequential delays in permitting new mining areas, which would limit the company’s ability to maintain or increase coal production in accordance with long-term plans. If this were to occur, the potential shortfall in future production could be material.
Adapted from press release by Jonathan Rowland
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/mining/01052014/water_management_in_the_elk_valley_coal794/