British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Selenium release from coal mines in the Elk Valley, and treatment R&D plans Jones, Ron; Brienne, Stephane H. R.; Jensen, S. E.; Tompkins, A. N.


Teck Coal Limited operates five coal mines in the Elk River Valley in southeastern British Columbia. Selenium concentrations were found to be elevated in some mine-influenced waters in the area. The major sources of selenium are the large rock spoils present in the drainage area. Removal of selenium by water treatment is being researched to decrease loadings on the Elk River. The focus of the treatment program is biological reduction and volatilization methods, which are more effective for selenium removal in high flow, multiple discharge and low concentration scenarios typical at the sites. Bench-scale testing of active, passive and hybrid bioreactors is currently underway at Teck's Applied Research and Technology (ART) research centre in Trail, British Columbia. Six active bioreactors were operated using a variety of parameters for eight months, achieving up to 98% selenium removal. Mobilization experiments were also conducted in humidity cells to determine the potential for selenium to leach from sediment samples. Results indicated that selenium was being mobilized from sediment at some of the sites tested. Future testing will continue in the future using a variety of methods. Key words: water treatment, biological removal, sediments

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