Teck’s multi-million dollar furnace project remains on back burner

A year after putting a major construction project on hold, Teck Trail Operations is not ready to move ahead just yet.

A year after putting a major construction project on hold, Teck Trail Operations is not ready to move ahead just yet.

The $210 million No. 4 Furnace Project remains deferred, confirmed Catherine Adair, Teck’s community relations leader.

In October 2012, the company cited uncertain global economic conditions behind the decision to keep the project deferred indefinitely.

“Since the announcement of the deferral, Teck has continued to reduce capital expenditures,” said Adair.  “Any decision to restart the project would be based on a number of variables, including global market conditions.”

The No. 4 Furnace Project was to be built at the southeast corner of the property, overlooking downtown and the Columbia River, and designed to increase Teck’s capacity for recycling end-of-life electronics.

New construction would include one slag fuming furnace and one settling furnace.

If the project proceeds the new furnaces would tie into the existing lead smelting operations and increase the ability to process e-waste and improve the recovery of lead, zinc copper and other metals from current and new feeds.

“Teck remains committed to long term sustainability of Trail Operations,” said Richard Deane, manager of environment, health and safety and public affairs.

“Over the last 30 years we have invested $1.5 billion in plant modernization at Trail Operations significantly improving its environmental and operating performance.”

The deferral of the furnace project was the only one to affect Trail Operations, with other projects in Chile, and elsewhere in B.C. also impacted.

Although Teck’s second quarterly report states “cost reduction programs exceeded initial goals,” further deferrals include delaying the development of phase two of Quebrada Blanca Operations in Chile and slowing the Quinette mine reopening in Tumbler Ridge, said Adair.

Teck Trail Operations has been forging ahead with another large investment since last year, which is construction of a $125 million new acid plant to replace two older acid plants.

The new technology in the No. 1 plant will significantly improve operating reliability and flexibility, explained Adair. “And reduce down time and maintenance costs while improving environmental performance.”

The Acid Plant is part of the zinc production process, and converts sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas into sulphuric acid and liquid SO2. These products are used for the production of fertilizer at Trail Operations, municipal water treatment pulp and paper bleaching, and chemical applications.

Total SO2 emissions are estimated to be reduced by 10 to 15 per cent per year from current levels, said Adair, adding, further building on improvements to date that have reduced emissions by over 95 per cent.

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