An innovative water treatment facility is cleaning up one of North America’s largest sources of heavy metal pollution.
For more than 70 years the Britannia Mine has been an ecological concern. Every day, hundreds of kilograms of heavy metals entered British Columbia’s Howe Sound through contaminated acid rock drainage that came from the now abandoned copper mine.
In March 2005, EPCOR and its partners signed an agreement with the B.C. Government to clean up the mine water. Eight months later, the Britannia Water Treatment facility was up and running. The facility treats an average of 4.2 billion litres annually, removing an average of 226,000 kg of heavy metal contaminants. The amount of copper removed yearly is the equivalent of preventing 30 million copper pennies from entering Howe Sound.
EPCOR has a 20-year guaranteed performance contract with the province to operate and maintain the mine and water treatment facilities.
Water Treatment (Industrial)
Design-Build-Finance-Operate (20-year term)
Water system affected
British Columbia’s Howe Sound
There are now plants and marine life returning to Howe Sound which was a dead zone for decades.
An on-site micro-turbine driven by the outflow of the mine water provides a source of renewable electricity for the treatment facility.
EPCOR developed the plant's treatment systems to meet strict new water effluent regulations with a focus on high operational reliability.
The Discovery Centre at the plant facility offers the public an opportunity to learn more about the on-going work to clean and restore this historic area. Tours and presentations conducted in cooperation with the Britannia Mine Museum.
About the system infrastructure
Britannia Water Treatment Plant
Designed to treat up to 12 million litres of mine water daily
A state of the art SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) computer-based system monitors the plant operations and water quality on a continuous basis.
The treatment facility uses slaked lime to precipitate the dissolved heavy metals out of the mine water. The heavy metals removed include:
The lime/ sludge mix that settles to the bottom of the stilling basin is dewatered and stored offsite.
After a final test of the pH and turbidity levels, the treated effluent flows down a 1700 m long outfall into Howe Sound.
Realtime and historical data of the Britannia Mine water treatment plant. Updates every 15 minutes.