Improving Energy Efficiency at Highland Valley Copper

June 30, 2011

As a resource company, we’re always looking for ways to improve our energy efficiency, reduce our environmental footprint and lower our operating costs.

At Highland Valley Copper (HVC) in British Columbia, we’ve been able to do just that. The abundance of relatively low-cost, clean, renewable hydroelectric power has provided HVC with an innovative solution to the high-energy cost of copper concentrate dewatering.

As ore is processed, moisture must be removed from the concentrate. This removal of moisture – or dewatering – is required for most of our products, including copper concentrate. The historical dewatering process required a large amount of heat. An operation like HVC, which produced 99,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2010, requires a lot of energy.

Historically, HVC has used natural gas to provide heat for its dryer. Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, but it still produces GHG emissions, and we wanted to find a better way. In 2010, HVC began replacing its existing copper concentrate dryer with a new system that uses pressure filtration technology. This system is powered by hydroelectricity, a clean, renewable energy source.

The new energy-efficient filtration system is expected to eliminate 50-75% of all natural gas used at HVC, reducing the operation’s GHG emissions by at least 5,000 tonnes of CO2e. This reduction is the equivalent of taking over 900 cars off the road for a year.

We will continue to look for new ways to improve the sustainability of our operations with every project we undertake. We are committed to energy efficiency and investing in technology advancements that also promote renewable energy.

First Published on June 30, 2011