Compost and natural gas producing facility proposed for Brenda Mines site

Rendering Brenda Renewables

Joanne Layh

The old Brenda Mines site could soon be home to a facility that produces natural gas and high-nutrient compost, if the site’s owners, Glencore, and their partner, Brenda Renewables, are successful in their plans.

Glencore and Brenda Renewables attended last Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting to give a 30-minute virtual presentation outlining the proposed project.

In his presentation to council Glencore reclamation manager Mark Tenbrink said Brenda Renewables has been working with them on the concept for the past several years.

Glencore and Brenda Renewables are proposing to build an anaerobic digestion facility at the former open pit mine site that closed down 30 years ago. 

Back in February Glencore applied to the Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) for Crown tenure over a five-acre section of previously disturbed land up at the site for construction of the Brenda Renewables project.

Rolfe Phillips, vice president for project development at Brenda Renewables, said they have received authorization from the Ministry of Environment for a compost operation and are currently working on an application for authorization to operate anaerobic digesters.

Phillips said they hope to begin construction in the first half of 2022 followed by phase one of the project, which will involve the operation of a class A composting facility producing approximately 5,000 tonnes per year of class A compost.

Phillips said the compost process will take two weeks in a covered aerated static pile system followed by a month or two in outdoor windrows that will be turned every week or two.

Compost from the Brenda Renewables project would be produced and used to enhance revegetation of the disturbed areas at the Brenda Mines site, where there is an open pit, four rock piles surrounding the pit, a former plant site and mill, as well as a tailings impoundment.

To do this, the system will process local municipal organic waste, yard waste, and bio-solids (material coming from a wastewater treatment plant) to produce renewable natural gas and high-nutrient class A compost.

Tenbrink assured council “there will be no bio-solids directly applied to the mine site and all excess liquid/leachate will be trucked off site to a local wastewater treatment facility.”

Tenbrink also stated that the compost operation will be limited to the former mill and plant site.

By late 2023 they hope to move to phase two, construction and operation of a wet anaerobic digester that they project will divert about 95,000 tonnes per year of locally sourced organic waste to produce up to 10,000 tonnes a year of class A compost and up to 85,000 GJ a year of renewable natural gas that will be injected into the Fortis pipeline.

The anaerobic digestion process produces two main products: renewable natural gas and solid and liquid organic matter that contains all the nutrients found in feedstock.

The entire system is designed to ensure that there will be no odour, noise or liquid discharge emissions, according to Tenbrink.

In their presentation to council, proponents of the facility cited numerous benefits to their proposed operation, including diversion of local organic wastes from landfill, accelerated reclamation of the mine site, renewable natural gas product that will be used locally, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and acceptance of organic matter in partnership with local communities.

“I know some of the bio-solids you’re producing at the West Kelowna bank right now, those are being trucked to Alberta, a very inefficient high-cost, environmentally not very sound practice to truck bio-solids out of your region all the way to Alberta for disposal,” Phillips told council.

The group of presenters also said if the project goes ahead trucks would only use the Connector, not Princeton Ave., and the catchment area for collecting organic waste could extend from Oliver to Merritt.

The project is expected to produce five or six jobs.

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