How BioteQ turns polluted mining wastewater into gold (well, copper, actually)

Tightening environmental regulations spell opportunity in China and Mexico

BioteQ Water-filtration plant

A Bioteq treatment facility in the U.S. (BioteQ)

While regulation is often seen as the enemy of profit, stricter rules mean big business for Vancouver-based BioteQ Environmental Technologies. The water-purification firm has found success by targeting regions with new or tightened environmental regulations—like China and Mexico—and offering its services to mining, power generation, and oil and gas companies.

BioteQ was founded in 2001 with the goal of finding a more sustainable way of processing acid mine water than conventional lime treatment methods, says interim CEO David Kratochvil. The company developed chemical treatments designed to recover metal and other substances from used industrial water.

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While its plants purify 9.5 million cubic metres of waste water annually, they also generate a revenue stream for the company. BioteQ is able to resell the copper, nickel and other metals collected during the process. The company’s 70 employees have designed or currently operate 16 water-treatment facilities in six countries, including Australia and Turkey.

Kratochvil says South America will be a key area of future growth for BioteQ, where the enforcement of environmental regulations “is expected to advance the most over the next decade.”