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Britannia Acid Mine How to green Treatment Plant

Helping a small community clean up one of North America’s most contaminated sites

Britannia Beach, British Columbia

Britannia Mine was once the largest producer of copper in the British Empire. After closure, it suffered three decades of decline, becoming the worst point source of metal pollution in North America. This contamination rendered the nearby watercourses devoid of life.

In 2004, the Province of British Columbia received ownership of the site and limited funds for cleanup. After a series of studies, the province concluded that a public-private-partnership would be the best approach for treating the mine drainage. The result was a $15.5 Million, 25 ML/day treatment plant completed in one year. The project was delivered using a design-build-finance-operate format, with EPCOR providing the financing and operation, LSI leading the construction, and Stantec leading the design.

The completion of the plant was an important foundation for the clean-up efforts at the site and necessary step for the local community’s revival. It removes 600,000 kg of heavy metals annually, preventing the equivalent of 30 million pennies from entering Howe Sound. In 2011, pink salmon returned to Britannia Creek for the first time in over a century. Today, it’s a National Historic Site and home to the award-winning Britannia Mine Museum. The residents of Britannia Beach are once again proud of their community.

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