[Timmins] Xstrata metallurgical site remediation underway – by Liz Cowan (Northern Ontario Business – January 22, 2013)

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Following 2020, it may be difficult to tell what once stood at the Kidd Metallurgical (Met) site in Timmins. Since copper and zinc smelting and refining operations came to an end in 2010, remedial and reclamation work has been ongoing at the site.

Xstrata Copper moved those operations to its Horne smelter in Rouyn, Que., and more than 650 employees lost their jobs. However, the concentrator remains at the site and about 220 are still employed.

The Kidd concentrator produces copper and zinc concentrates and treats all ore from the Kidd Mine. The remaining Met site operations will close once the Kidd Mine ceases operations, destined for 2020. Then, a remedial project will be undertaken for the remaining facilities at the Met site.

Since 2010, about 75 per cent of the plant remained empty and the company, as part of its permit requirements, had to initiate a reclamation project to deal with that portion.

“We removed all the infrastructure and took down a large amount of (empty) buildings,” said John Stroiazzo, manager of projects and closed sites for Xstrata. “The electrical power line and the water pipes, and everything that serviced the facility were removed. It took about 12 to 14 months to remove all of that.”

Early last year, a steel recycling company dismantled 36 industrial buildings and ancillary infrastructure. According to an Xstrata newsletter, more than 50,000 tonnes of steel were removed over a 10-month period. Most of the material went to Canadian steel recyclers. Electronics, transformers and other items were also recycled, reducing the amount of material destined for a landfill. Equipment, furniture and trucks were donated to community groups and organizations.

“The landscape is a lot barer up there now than it used to be,” Stroiazzo said.

A jarosite pond, which consisted of waste material from zinc processing, also had to be closed out. The 30-hectare pond was drained and a high density polyurethane liner was installed.

“It’s essentially a plastic cover and then top soil is put on top of that and it will be seeded,” Stroiazzo said. “It will be a grassy knoll. The pond has been accumulating that material since operations began at the site.”

The liner ensures that water can’t come into contact with the waste material and results in a clean runoff. The jarosite project was $26 million, and the removal efforts cost about $50 million.

Specialized contractors were required for the pond work, as well as for taking apart the machinery and equipment.

“These efforts are very intense. We had 116 people working on reclamation over (last) summer,” he said.

“Now we are in a holding pattern until the rest of the facility closes in 2020. The remaining buildings will be removed and the area will be revegetated.”

A tailings facility which holds the waste rock that is ground up will also have a cover installed.

“These things are all governed by the government and the closure plans we have filed with the ministry have to be executed and then inspected to make sure we are complying and following all the rules and regulations.” said Stroiazzo. “It’s a huge project.”