Teck set to expand e-waste program

New project valued at over $200 million

Teck will invest $210 million on increasing its capacity to recycle end-of-life electronic waste in Trail, the smelting giant announced Thursday.

The No. 4 Furnace Project at Trail Operations includes the construction of a new slag fuming furnace and settling furnace to be located in a building at the southeast corner of the property, overlooking downtown and the Columbia River.

“These two furnaces will significantly increase our capacity to process end-of-life electronics likely in the order of tripling our current capacity,” said Teck’s Richard Deane, noting that last year just over 13,000 tonnes of “e-waste” was recycled.

Trail Operations began recycling televisions, computers and other electronic items on a trial basis in 2006, and was designated as a reprocessing site when the B.C. program started up in 2007.

After completing a $6-million feasibility study last year, the project received public approval at information sessions.  The much-anticipated project, the largest at the Trail Operations in more than a decade, will start up next year with completion expected in 2014.

“We’re estimating that the construction effort will require about 500,000 man-hours of work, which equates to about 200 construction jobs for that two-year period,” said Deane.

“When it is complete, the operation of these furnaces are going to be integrated with our existing operations and we haven’t determined at this time what the effect on overall employment levels are going to be as a result of this project.”

Teck has concentrated on minimizing any environmental impact that this project may have.

“A minor increase in some metal levels will be offset by no net increase in SO2 (sulfur dioxide),” said Deane, who added that the company is expecting a minor increase in discharge levels to the Columbia River but these increases stay well within Teck’s existing permitted levels.

Currently KC Recycling creates two waste streams for processing by Teck: crushed glass from traditional computer and television screens which contain 8-10 per cent lead; and the remaining components which are shredded with the steel, aluminum, copper and circuit boards are removed for processing elsewhere using a number of mechanical and manual sorting methods.

Teck then processes the glass as it feeds into the Kivcet smelter and the e-waste bits and pieces from the shred go into the No. 2 slag fuming furnace. Slag-fuming furnaces remove additional gold, silver and copper, as well as lead, zinc and nickel, while vaporizing wood and plastics to help fire the furnace.