The Yukon Zinc Mine required an assay laboratory building, housing various types of technical and chemical measuring devices which are supported by mechanical systems, air side systems, water, heating, cooling, plumbing and acid waste collections. The facility enables laboratory staff to complete an ‘assay’ which originates from pulverized rocks and goes through a comprehensive chemical analysis for evaluating composition.

The primary focus of the project was to create indoor air quality that would be safe for occupants and ensure a secure process to prevent mixing of airflow within the building. Each room in the laboratory has a relative pressure difference to the others, based on the specific technical requirements of each space.

Consideration of end user requirements and experiences within the design were a key challenge, with required laboratory equipment integrated with key systems and solutions recognising the hazards which might be created in multiple chemical reactions. This included removing specific amounts of exhaust air from each space and supplying associated filtered makeup air.

NDY’s design incorporated acid resistive glass pipe and an acid neutralizer system, to enable the use of corrosive liquids within the facility. Our experts also removed dangerous chemicals from the exhaust air system through individual lab exhaust hoods and treated that exhaust via a water scrubber system. Air was then discharged 50 feet above the ground with a fiberglass duct exhaust suitable for -70°F outside air temperature.

To address air distribution challenges within confined lab spaces that require a large amount of air flow, NDY designed special perforated plate laboratory-type air diffusers to avoid destroying the aerodynamic nature of the laboratory hoods. Through this, air is collected from the chemical processes and discharged through bag-house filters up into the atmosphere through the 50 foot high discharge stack, ensuring it does not re-enter the buildings.

NDY designed the HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, bag-house systems, acid waste neutralizer systems, safety systems and the air scrubbers in the exhaust collection areas. We included two outdoor air makeup units with provisions for heat recovery coils in the outside air and exhaust air, with the coils enabling the systems to be more energy efficient and cost effective because freezing outside winter air is pre-heated to 30°F.

In terms of the maintenance and longevity of systems, NDY designed robust mechanical services to withstand the rugged environment, with all air-handling systems located inside the second level mezzanine.

The project ultimately delivered intricate laboratory systems that include scrubbers, air conditioning, heating and filtration, and removal of zinc, lead and copper from air and water streams. The systems enable the laboratory to operate safely, providing the mine with an efficient fire assay where rocks are burned to check the purity of content in precious metals.