Alexco Resource Corp. announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Alexco Environmental Group ("AEG"), under contract to the US Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), has completed the construction and initiated operation of a 1,200 gallon per minute ("gpm") interim water treatment facility at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. The abandoned Gold King Mine was the site of the spill on August 5, 2015, which inundated the Animas River in southern Colorado.
AEG's contract to design, construct and automate an Interim Water Treatment Plant at the Gold King Mine is part of the Emergency Response and Removal Action being conducted by the EPA. AEG is the selected interim water treatment contractor for the EPA and acts under the supervision of Environmental Restoration, L.L.C. ("ER").
AEG's water treatment plant design was selected due to its proven capability to address water treatment residuals (sludge) during cold weather operations with a highly automated plant-wide control system, enabling 24-hour operation at low cost and high reliability. AEG completed the construction of the treatment system within a required three week period, and is now entering a four week testing period during which the plant will be optimized and further winterized in anticipation of the harsh conditions expected at 10,500 feet in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.
The treatment plant has the flexibility to utilize diverse sources of low cost alkalinity (lime or kiln dust) and is currently operating under complete automation in the 600 gpm to 1,200 gpm range while achieving metals removal well in excess of the contractual standard of 85% total metals removal.
AEG's unique solids filtration and sludge handling experience will allow extended operation that avoids the need for sludge re-handling during winter operations by providing for simple on-site sludge storage and the opportunity for beneficial re-use. Separately, Alexco has developed and demonstrated the beneficial effects of water treatment sludge re-use at the Platoro mine and Globeville smelter treatment sites, which are also located in Colorado.
AEG's Vice President Business and Strategic Development Joe Harrington said, "We are pleased with our rapid construction response and successful initial operation of our plant near the Gold King Mine; we are also mindful that this was a superior effort by our engineers, scientists, employees and sub-contractors, all of whom deserve credit. At the end of the day, we are all proud to be a small part of the beginning of environmental improvement of the upper reaches of the Animas River in Colorado."