New acid plant set for Teck’s Trail Operations

Teck is investing $125 million in the installation of a new acid plant at Trail Operations, the mining giant announced Thursday.

Teck is investing $125 million in the installation of a new acid plant at Trail Operations, the mining giant announced Thursday.

The new plant, which will replace two existing ones on site, is expected to deliver enhanced operating reliability and flexibility as well as improved environmental performance, according to Richard Deane, manager of environmental, health and safety and public affairs.

“The existing acid plants are over 35 years old so they’re reaching the end of their life and the time has come to replace them,” he said. “And we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to apply current-to-best available technology and as a result of that, we’re expecting to see an improvement in both SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions and also an improvement in the S02 concentrations in the community.”

In fact, he estimates total SO2 emissions will be reduced by about 700 tonnes, which is between 15 to 20 per cent less than current levels.

The construction of the new site, which will be located adjacent to existing acid plants in the middle of operations, will start in April next year and is expected to be complete in late 2013.

About 300,000 hours of construction labour are required to complete the project, which equates to about 150 short-term jobs.

As this is a replacement of existing operating plants, Teck doesn’t expect an increase in long-term employment opportunities related to this project.

“We’re really pleased about this announcement, that we’re going to be making this investment,” said Deane. “It definitely will improve the long-term viability of our operation.”

The acid plant is part of the process that turns S02 gas into fertilizer and sulphur products that are used in municipal water treatment and pulp and paper.

The SO2 gas shows up as a result of Teck’s zinc roasting and lead smelting process. It’s captured from these processes and sent to the acid plant and then for further treatment in Warfield, where fertilizer products are produced.

This isn’t the only project in the works at Trail Operations. Teck is investing $210 million on increasing its capacity to recycle end-of-life electronic waste.

The construction of a new slag fuming furnace and settling furnace also starts next year and is set to be complete in 2014.

The addition of the new furnaces is expected to triple the company’s current capacity – approximately 13,000 tonnes of e-waste was recycled last year.

The construction of the furnaces is estimated to require about 500,000 man-hours of work, which works out to about 200 construction jobs over the two-year period. The company isn’t sure, yet, whether additional staff will be needed after the furnaces are up and running.