VANCOUVER, BC – BQE Water Inc. (TSX-V: BQE), a leader in the treatment and management of mine impacted waters, has successfully completed the performance test of the first industrial scale water treatment plant combining nanofiltration with electroreduction to simultaneously remove sulphate and selenium from mine contact water at a mine in the US.
Operating intermittently as determined by site water levels, the plant treats a mix of tailings seepage and mine contact water to produce treated effluent fully compliant with site requirements. This includes selenium below 2 ppb and sulphate below 950 ppm to ensure that conditions for passing bioassays are met. By-products of treatment are a solid gypsum and stable non-hazardous iron oxide-selenium residue suitable for onsite disposal.
“The plant demonstrates the versatility of our selenium electroreduction process which can be combined with either ion exchange, as is the case with our Selen-IX™ process for selenium removal that has been successfully applied at sites in Canada and the US, or with membrane treatments such as nanofiltration or reverse osmosis,” stated David Kratochvil, President & CEO of BQE Water. “Integrating membranes broadens the applicability to include projects where simultaneous sulphate and selenium removal is required or where selenium speciation in mine water is not limited to selenate.”
The plant was commissioned by BQE Water last summer and has been operational since. Due to the lack of site water, completion of the performance test – which calls for an extended period of plant operation at the design flow to verify the plant can achieve the parameters for which it was designed – was delayed until recently.
Simultaneous Selenium and Sulphate Removal
Selenium and sulphate are released into water by oxidation of minerals exposed to air and moisture during mining and mineral processing. Their respective discharge limits applicable to effluent discharges into the environment are regulated by many jurisdictions. Minerals that release selenium and sulphate are ubiquitous and are present in mine waters across the commodity spectrum from gold, base metals, coal to uranium. As a result, an increasing number of sites – new projects, operating mines and some closed mines – that discharge water into the environment have a need to remove sulphate and selenium simultaneously.
Combining Electroreduction with Membranes
Originally developed as part of our Selen-IX™ process for selective selenate removal, electroreduction is the only commercially available process that removes all known species of selenium from water into a stable inorganic solid residue while meeting regulatory discharge limits. Together, electroreduction and membrane treatment provides a new all-powerful non-biological process to manage sulphate and selenium regardless of species. This enables projects to avoid liabilities associated with the production and storage of biosolids and eliminates treatability risks associated with complex selenium speciation that occurs with biological processes. While in most cases selenate is the main selenium species present in mine water, contact between selenate and bacteria or algae can transform a portion of the selenate into selenocyanate and/or organo-selenium species which are difficult to remove. Since these undesirable biotransformations occur in all biological treatment systems, electroreduction can be used to retrofit existing biological plants to improve performance. Lastly, a combined electroreduction-membrane system will enable projects with intermittent and seasonal water treatment to significantly reduce life cycle costs and risks.
About BQE Water
BQE Water is a service provider specializing in water treatment and management for metals mining, smelting and refining. We are helping to transform the way the industry thinks about water in the context of natural resource projects by offering services and expertise which enables more sustainable water management practices and improved overall project performance at reduced risks. BQE Water invests in innovation and has developed unique intellectual property through the commercialization of several new technologies at mine sites around the world for organizations including Glencore, Jiangxi Copper, Freeport-McMoRan and the US EPA. BQE Water is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol BQE. Visit www.bqewater.com for more information.
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