Vancouver-based BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Inc., a company that treats industrial wastewater, will construct a third water treatment plant in China, in joint venture with Jiangxi Copper Company. The project will enable the mine site to maximize resource recovery and produce clean water. The design report for the plant, announced in March 2010, has been approved by the joint venture, and the project will proceed to construction in the third quarter of this year. The capital cost of the plant is estimated to be US$3 million, which includes the process plant, initial reagents required in the process, and contingency.
The plant, which will have a design capacity of 800 cubic metres per hour, will provide new treatment capacity at the Dexing site to selectively recover cobalt and nickel from acid wastewater and produce a saleable cobalt-nickel product using ion exchange technology developed to treat wastewater with very low concentrations of dissolved metals. The feed concentration for cobalt and nickel in the water is estimated to range between four and eight parts per million for each metal. Based on annual precipitation at Dexing and the site water balance in 2009, the plant can be expected to treat approximately five to six million cubic metres of water per year and recover an estimated 50,000 pounds of nickel and 60,000 pounds of cobalt annually. The ion exchange process has been tested in both laboratory and field settings during 2009 and 2010.
By recovering nickel and cobalt from wastewater, the plant provides a means to remove valuable residual metals from the site, maximize resource recovery, produce treated water that meets strict environmental requirements, and further reduce the life cycle cost of wastewater treatment at the Dexing mine.