Shaping Tomorrow Through Technological Innovation: Applied Research & Technology
In 2007, Teck’s Applied Research and Technology (ART) group demonstrated how collaboration with Operations and implementation of best-in-class process technology can increase top line revenues and drive down unit costs. Continuous Improvement projects contributed about $40 million in additional operating profit to Teck in 2007.
The sustainability of Teck’s business was addressed under ART’s Environmental Technology and Knowledge Management programs. Four new Communities of Practice were established to increase knowledge transfer between technology experts in the company.
Of the many accomplishments in 2007, one highlight was a collaborative ART-Red Dog Operation investigation into new methods to treat water. ART expertise in technology evaluation complemented the Operation’s strong onsite experience in project implementation, while representatives from corporate office in Vancouver assisted in a review of literature, research and bench tests. Two process options were ultimately identified to produce treated water for discharge from the Red Dog tailings impoundment, and the more technically feasible method was selected for full implementation during the 2008 discharge season.
2008 Priorities: Water, Acid Rock Drainage, GHGs
In 2008, ART will be working with Elk Valley Coal Operations to decrease the discharge of selenium into rivers and streams in the Elk River Valley, and research will continue on treatment methods involving naturally-occurring microorganisms to aid in removing trace elements including selenium.
At our Pend Oreille Operation, further testing of a natural microbial process, currently being used to treat mine water, will determine if tailings impoundment water can be treated in the same system.
Trail Operation’s ongoing quest to decrease effluent and related discharge impacts will be boosted by an ART program to improve water treatment plant performance; research on methods to decrease the amount of metals going into the Columbia River will be complete by the end of 2008.
In cooperation with Antamina and the University of British Columbia, metals drainage from waste rock dumps will be investigated. Though this research will specifically be conducted in relation to conditions at the Antamina Operation in Peru, mitigation methods will be applicable across our Operations and perhaps lead to industry-wide innovations.
A new area for ART is greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration; research will be initiated as the company prepares to expand into Alberta’s oil sands. A particularly promising initiative is the company’s sponsorship of the Consortium Enbridge Alberta Saline Aquifer Project , where the feasibility of carbon dioxide sequestration in natural saline aquifers is being investigated. Redirecting excess CO2 into saline aquifers located miles underground would ‘lock up’ thousands of tonnes of this greenhouse gas, and thus keep it out of the atmosphere.