Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in Mining Camp Discharges

May. 17 2021

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) is a rapidly growing tool for monitoring disease prevalence and understanding the state of public health of any community—remote or urban. The health of large and small communities can be evaluated by testing for specific biomarkers such as viruses and bacteria in wastewater samples.

The principle of WBE is based on the observation that humans excrete biomarkers indicative of a disease into the sanitary sewer system up to a week before the disease manifests itself as a community outbreak. Thus, if wastewater samples are collected from a sanitary sewer system and represent a target community, they can be tested for disease-specific biomarkers. This enables WBE to become a predictive tool for community outbreaks.

Most recently, WBE has been successfully used to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 and predicting outbreaks by measuring the concentration of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in various sanitary sewer samples. The benefits of testing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 include:

  • A rapid and cost-effective method for monitoring the SARS-CoV-2 virus and by extension, the COVID-19 disease;
  • An approach that can be applied to large and small remote work camps without the need for individual testing, with the potential for monitoring or proactively predicting outbreaks in individual facilities or buildings;
  • The ability to track vaccination efficiency;
  • As a predictive tool, allowing for targeted public health efforts and enhanced health and safety COVID-19 prevention strategies; and
  • Ultimately, reducing the risk of potential operational shutdown.


Bureau Veritas, in collaboration with C.E.C. Analytics will provide the Canadian Mining Sector with an end-to-end solution for monitoring COVID-19 within their remote work sites (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Collaboration for a successful monitoring strategy

SARS-COV-2 Monitoring Strategy in Mining Camps

C.E.C will design a WBE program to achieve the most cost effective and meaningful data for their customers. The C.E.C team will work with clients, either onsite or remotely, to design a customized monitoring strategy and install their samplers. C.E.C.’s light and portable CA101 Sampler is designed for convenience; it allows users to quickly switch between composite and grab sampling in situ. The patent-pending design allows the sampler to connect with any sanitary sewage system. The C.E.C Portable Sampler combines easy, low-cost maintenance with a simple and intuitive operation.

Taking advantage of more than 45 locations across Canada, samples can be delivered to a Bureau Veritas facility where they will be expedited to our genetics laboratory in Guelph, Ontario.

Bureau Veritas offers a 1-step reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) method for detecting and quantifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater samples. The method targets the virus’ genetic material, in particular the N1 and N2 genes, which are specific to SARS-CoV-2. Bureau Veritas provides results within 3-4 business days from the time of submission, with the results reported as mean gene copies/mL, at a detection limit of 2 gene copies/mL. The current hold time for a SARS-CoV-2 sample is 48 hours from the time of collection to when it arrives at the laboratory.

If you get a positive test result for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your sample, the experienced team at C.E.C. Analytics is ready to interpret the results and make recommendations for management responses.