Analysing Acid Mine Drainage Forecasting: My Role at Teck Mining's Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Project

I am excited to share insights from my recent industrial student placement at Teck Mining Company in Trail, Canada, focusing on the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project in Chile.

During this placement between April and May of this year, my primary responsibility revolved around conducting TIMA (TESCAN Integrated Mineral Analyzer ) and XRD (X-ray Diffraction) mineralogical analyses. These analyses are crucial for forecasting acid mine and rock drainage (AMD/ARD) as part of my PhD research, essential considerations for managing future tailings generated by the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project.

Enrique Sáez Salgado arriving by plane in Trail, British Columbia
Enrique Sáez Salgado arriving Trail, British Columbia

Overview of Teck Mining Company and The Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project

Teck Resources Limited, headquartered in Vancouver, is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development. The company operates several mines in Canada, the United States, Chile, and Peru, focusing on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal, and energy. The Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project represents a significant expansion effort in Chile, focusing on copper production and incorporating advanced environmental management strategies.

Teck Resources Limited, renowned for its commitment to responsible mining practices, provided me with a unique opportunity to contribute to sustainable resource development firsthand. My role involved conducting analyses and immersing myself in the environmental complexities and regulatory landscapes that define modern mining operations.

Computer and laboratory equipment
TIMA equipment, laboratory facilities, Teck

During my placement, I was immersed in the following key responsibilities:

  • TIMA and XRD Analyses: utilising sophisticated TIMA and XRD technologies to analyse mineralogical compositions of ores and potential tailings. This analysis will be critical for understanding the chemical makeup and potential environmental impacts, particularly focusing on AMD/ARD forecasting and validating results from hyperspectral mineralogical techniques such as Corescan and HyLogger.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment: contributing to environmental impact assessments by providing detailed mineralogical data.  This information is expected to guide decision-making processes to minimise ecological footprints and adhere to stringent regulatory standards.
  • Project Integration: collaborating and chatting with multidisciplinary teams to integrate mineralogical findings into broader project planning and environmental management strategies. This included liaising with engineers and environmental scientists in areas like mineral processing and biology to ensure comprehensive project sustainability and learning about their lines of research

Working closely with the Trail Technical Services team, under the supervision of its leader, Regina Baumgartner, I engaged deeply in interpreting TIMA and XRD data to understand the mineralogical compositions of ores and potential tailings. This analysis is critical, not just for operational planning but for ensuring compliance with rigorous environmental standards. Through these analyses, I grasped the direct impact of my work on environmental sustainability— aligned with MIWATCH Stream 1 objective in determining the reactivity in future mine tailings.

Beyond the technical aspects, my placement fostered a profound appreciation for the collaborative spirit at Teck. This holistic approach not only sharpened my analytical skills but also broadened my understanding of how scientific data shapes strategic decisions in mining.

Enrique Saez Salgado in laboratory facilities, Teck
Enrique Sáez Salgado in laboratory facilities, Teck

Looking forward, Teck Mining's dedication to innovation and sustainability is evident in their ongoing initiatives. From enhancing environmental monitoring practices to pioneering new technologies in mineralogical analysis, the company remains at the forefront of responsible resource development. My experience underscores the pivotal role of mineralogical analyses in this journey—tools that empower mining companies to forecast and mitigate environmental impacts effectively.

In conclusion, my time at Teck Mining has left an indelible mark on my career aspirations and personal values. I am inspired by the company's unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and eager to apply the skills and insights gained during my placement to future endeavours in mining engineering. This journey has reinforced my belief in the power of science and collaboration to create a sustainable future for mining operations worldwide.

Last updated:
27 June 2024