Province calls for water treatment proposals at Britannia 

The provincial government has issued a request for expressions of interest to clean up the contaminated water flowing from the Britannia mine site using an acid-water treatment plant, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management Stan Hagen announced Wednesday.

The request seeks to identify firms interested in providing effective, innovative proposals to design, build, finance and operate the water treatment plant at the former mine near Squamish.

"Cleaning the mine water at the old Britannia mine site will have enormous benefits for the water quality in Howe Sound," said Hagen. "Clearly we want to address this costly challenge in the most effective, innovative and efficient way possible.

"That's why we want to bring on board a forward-looking partner who has the expertise to tackle this head-on."

The mine, once the largest copper mine in the British Commonwealth, has been a major source of acid mine water pollution in Howe Sound, since its closure in the mid-1970s. The site discharges an average of 629 kg of heavy metals each day, making it one of the largest sources of acid rock drainage to a marine environment in North America.

"The water contamination has long been a concern locally and internationally," said West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Ted Nebbeling.

"Addressing it will encourage development, tourism and other investment."

Proposals will be evaluated based on qualifications, experience, use of demonstrated, innovative technology and financial capacity.

Additional remediation work is already under way, including moving contaminated soils, capturing and redirecting surface runoff and contaminated groundwater.

By including financing and performance measures in the contract with a partner, there will be more accountability established overall for the project, and will ensure that the environmental clean-up is effective and appropriate. The successful proponent will have to meet all environmental regulatory requirements.

The procurement process will be administered by Partnerships BC. The request is posted to BC Bid (www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca), (www.britanniamine.ca) and Partnerships BC (www.partnershipsbc.ca).

The expected timeline for the project will see a formal request for proposals issued in April, design and construction underway by the fall, and the water treatment plant in operation by the fall of 2005.

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