Our Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program (AEMP) assesses the aquatic environment, including levels of selenium and other substances in the watershed, and the health of aquatic organisms such as benthic invertebrates (small organisms) and fish.
The AEMP – developed in collaboration with government regulators and First Nations– is a comprehensive data collection program that will evaluate the effects of our mining operations, separately and cumulatively within the Elk River watershed, while also monitoring the success of our water quality management actions.
The AEMP seeks answers to six key questions:
Reports and Summaries
Selenium Status Reports to the Elk Valley Selenium Task Force (EVSTF):
These reports summarize study information presented to the EVSTF, a joint industry-government group with representatives from the provincial and federal governments and Teck.
As part of our monitoring program, we have commissioned an Upper Fording River Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) Study. The objective of this four-year project, which started in 2012, is to better understand the status of the WCT population in the Fording River watershed upstream of Josephine Falls. This fish population has been recognized as being particularly vulnerable to effects of steelmaking coal mining, including water quality challenges such as selenium, so we initiated this study to help determine whether the upper Fording WCT population is healthy, robust and sustainable. The Study is being guided by a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from the Ktunaxa First Nation, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Dr. Carl Schwarz (Simon Fraser University) and Teck.
The study involves tracking fish using implanted radio transmitters to help us understand fish movement patterns, seasonal distribution and habitat use. The study includes population monitoring to obtain information on the size and age structure of the population; and habitat mapping and characterization to determine the amount of habitat available, how it is used, and to identify critical habitat. Preliminary study results indicate that, based on physical examinations, the fish appear to be in good condition and robust. The 2012 work also produced a population estimate that is within the range expected for a headwater population within the upper Kootenay River watershed.
These interim reports were prepared on behalf of Environment Canada and provided to Teck and other stakeholders on or about September 22, 2014. Teck has evaluated these reports in the context of extensive monitoring and research undertaken in consultation with representatives from federal and provincial regulators, First Nations, scientific experts and other stakeholders.
Using water treatment technology, including full-scale treatment plants, is one of the key approaches to protecting water quality in the Elk River watershed. Teck is leading a major program to identify and evaluate existing and emerging technologies to address substances such as selenium. This research is also being conducted by various partner technological firms with expertise in water treatment.
For example, we have partnered with BioteQ Environmental Technologies for a pilot testing of their ion exchange technology which is expected to remove selenium as well as other target constituents.
The different technologies we will pilot also include:
We are also launching a supporting laboratory program to evaluate the treatment of the residual materials produced by the pilot plants so that appropriate disposal options can be determined.
Commissioning is also now underway on our first full-scale water treatment plant at our Line Creek Operations – scheduled for commissioning in fall 2015– that is designed to reduce selenium levels in the creek. Using a process that was piloted in 2011, naturally occurring bacteria will be used in specialized equipment to remove selenium from the water.