Teck aims to ‘clear the air’ of fugitive dust

Teck has implemented a 5 year plan to reduce the amount of stray particles floating around on site and through the area.

The Fugitive Dust Project has commenced.

Although it sounds like an espionage mission, a new project at Teck Trail Operations is not covert.

Intended to reduce the amount of stray particles of raw materials floating around on site and in the community, the project is an above-the-board attempt by the region’s largest employer to “clear the air” on its environmental act.

By improving storage of raw materials, intermediate process materials and recycles on site, the project aims for a reduction in current dust emissions from existing processes and infrastructure, said Richard Deane, Teck’s energy and public affairs manager.

That means a cleaner environment on the work site as well as in the Greater Trail region, he noted.

“We’re hoping to ultimately see further improvement in terms of dusting levels and metal levels in the environment,” Deane said. “It will reduce the amount of fugitive dust on the property and also reduce the levels that would get into the community.”

The Fugitive Dust Project was made public in May at a Trail Health and Environment Committee meeting at City Hall.

Teck officials told a packed house in that presentation that the issue of fugitive dust was identified through the company’s continual monitoring of metal of levels in the community and on the job site.

It was found that existing piles of material and how it was handled created a further source of metal emissions coming off the site and into the community, as opposed to emissions that would come from any of the site’s stacks.

The dust project will focus on a few different areas, including covering any outdoor piles of material that are a risk and that aren’t currently covered, said Deane.

“It will go after non-stack sources, dusting of materials that may contain metals that may come from uncovered piles, might come from open mixing and handling of materials that contain metals, and from transporting (trucking) of materials that contain metals around the property,” he stated.

Over the last 15 years Teck has reduced metal emissions in the air by over 95 per cent, largely the result of implementing the lead furnace projects.

Deane said the new project would take emission reductions one step further, and will dovetail into some existing projects, including bag house improvements—improvements to stack house emissions—wheel washing, road sweeping, road washing and dust suppression activities, all of which are now underway.

The new aspect of the project includes identifying and mapping any other open sources of material—roads, buildings, material handling—and commencing feasibility studies for two buildings that house mixing of materials for lead smelter feed and materials for zinc process feed as well.

A five-year plan—developed by Teck engineers, a consultant and outside engineers—will be developed after the studies are done that will set milestones and targets to achieve 2018 ambient metal targets.

It will utilize some of the work done on how to manage fugitive dust by other operations around North America, including Vancouver Wharves concentrate unloading, Red Dog Mine in Alaska, and a lead zinc smelter in Torreón, Mexico.

The feasibility portion of the multi-year project will be complete later this summer on material storage, and the feasibility of enclosures for the smelter recycle area and the roaster feed pad.

“That will put us in a position of determining what potential costs will be, and determine if that is something we can proceed with,” said Deane.