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Review of Environmental Releases for the Base Metals Smelting Sector (Summary), Hatch, 2000

For a complete copy of this report, please contact Serge Langdeau at 819-994-0457.

Summary

Various substances which are relevant to the Base Metals Smelting Sector (BMSS) have been declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). A multi-stakeholder Strategic Options Process (SOP) was launched in May 1996 to address the management of these substances. The SOP culminated in the development of a Strategic Options Report (SOR) in June 1997. The report was accepted by the Minister of Environment in April 1999.

The SOR recommended, among other things, that site-specific Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) be developed and implemented by each BMSS facility in concert with governments, local communities and other affected stakeholders. The Base Metals Smelting Sector includes all primary facilities producing base metals (e.g., copper, cobalt, lead, nickel, and zinc) as well as the secondary lead smelters. This study focuses on the fifteen BMSS sites in Canada, which participated in the SOP.

The purpose of this Review of Environmental Releases was to identify the best environmental release performance in the Base Metals Smelting Sector in order to help Environment Canada assess the appropriateness of the content and commitments in the context of the BMSS SOR and other sectoral environmental initiatives and commitments. While the SOR focused on inorganic arsenic compounds, inorganic cadmium compounds, lead, mercury and oxidic, sulphidic and soluble inorganic nickel compounds, this report also includes data on particulate matter and sulphur dioxide. The inclusion of these two pollutants is relevant as part of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) agreement to develop comprehensive Multi-pollutant Emissions Reduction Strategies (MERS) for some sectors, including  the Base Metals Smelting Sector.

The information on best release performance will be considered in the development of a Guidance Document for Environmental Management Plans for the Base Metals Smelting Sector.

Information was obtained through publicly available sources and the use of a detailed questionnaire developed by Hatch and Environment Canada and completed by each site.

This report summarizes the information on the following topics:

  • environmental release data to air and water;
  • Environmental Performance Indicators (release per unit of primary production);
  • potential technical release reduction options including costs and socio-economic considerations;
  • estimations of practicable release reductions for the sector by 2008 and beyond 2008; and
  • Canadian and international environmental release and ambient standards.

Historic and Current Releases

The Base Metals Smelting Sector has made significant progress in reducing releases since 1988 as indicated by the overall trends shown in the following table.  This information is based on information supplied by the facilities in the completed questionnaire.

It should be noted that there is incomplete reporting and not all sites provided data for each of the years as described in the notes following Table S1.  Caution should be exercised in making year-to-year comparisons as the missing data can impact a particular year's values.

Table S1: Summary of Historical Releases (tonnes)Footnote a
Substance198819931995199619971998
Arsenic32711698154162167
Cadmium1249024334646
Lead1,8361,103742823620543
Mercury28114533
Nickel1,451530638327340314
Particulate Matter22,93813,2558,8209,5418,3207,404
Sulphur Dioxide1,797,0261,177,576891,372889,815846,729867,684

Footnotes

Footnote a

There is incomplete reporting as follows

  • For arsenic, data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For cadmium, Inco Thompson did not provide any data on cadmium releases. Inco Copper Cliff did not provide data for 1988.   Data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For lead, Inco Thompson provided data for 1988 and 1998 only. Data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For mercury, Inco Thompson did not provide any data. Data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For nickel, data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For particulate matter, data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.
  • For sulphur dioxide, data is missing for Cobalt Refining Company (Sherritt), Tonolli and Nova Pb.

Return to footnote a referrer

Options for Further Reductions

An analysis was conducted to identify where further reductions could be made in releases by the application of technically feasible methods.  Two time periods were chosen for the analysis:  By 2008 and Beyond 2008.  These dates correspond to the dates specified in Recommendation #1 of the Strategic Options Report dealing with Release Reduction Targets and Schedules.

The analysis was based on a review of the current flow sheet, the current (i.e., 1998) release data and current projects.  The detailed review was focused on six facilities representing a significant portion of the releases from this sector.

Table S2 shows the technical reduction options identified for the Base Metals Smelting Sector for 2008 and beyond 2008.  Also included in the table are the capital costs as estimated by Hatch and potential reduction for toxics, particulate matter (PM) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) in percentage terms from the current (1998) levels.

There are a number of factors determining whether a site might implement these options including project feasibility indicators (e.g. Net Present Value – NPV), mine life, and capital rationing.  Another factor to be considered is the impact of operating costs.  For example, options involving the production and shipment of sulphuric acid at a location far from the market have expensive annual operating costs which could have a significant impact on project feasibility.  Although technically feasible, a detailed site-specific study would be required to determine the socio-economic impact of these options.

It is unlikely that all these options will be implemented by the Base Metals Smelting Sector for economic reasons.

Table S2: Summary of Options for Reductions By 2008 and Beyond 2008 (from 1998 levels)
SiteOption for Reduction by 2008Option for Reduction Beyond 2008
Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting

Incremental improvements to gas handling system

Cost: $30 to 60 million

Reduction: 10% to 50% of toxics and PM. No effect on SO2

Introduction of hydrometallurgical process

Cost: $500 to 800 million

Reduction: Greater than 90% of toxics, PM, and SO2

Inco Thompson

Improvements to gas handling system

Cost: $20 to 70 million

Reduction: 20% to 50% of toxics and PM. No effect on SO2

Smelter modernization and acid plant

Cost: $500 to 700 million

Reduction: Greater than 90% of toxics, PM, and SO2

Falconbridge Sudbury

Wet scrubbing technology

Cost: $50 to 80 million

Reduction: Greater than 90% of toxics, PM, and SO2

No major changes beyond 2008
Inco Copper Cliff

Wet scrubbing of Fluid Bed Roaster off-gas

Cost:  $60 to 80 million

Reduction: Greater than 97% of toxics, PM, and SO2 from Fluid Bed Roaster stream

Continuous converting technology

Cost: $200 to 350 million

Reduction: Greater than 90% of toxics, PM, and SO2 of smelter releases

Noranda Horne

Increasing percentage of matte processed through the Noranda continuous converter

Cost: $20 to 50 million

Reduction: Greater than 80% of toxics and PM. Greather than 90% of SO2

No major changes beyond 2008.
Noranda GaspéIncremental Improvements

Smelter modernization

Cost: $50 to 100 million

Reduction: Greater than 90% of toxics, PM, and SO2

Rest of SectorIncremental ImprovementsIncremental Improvements
Note: The options identified for 2008 for Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting, and Noranda Horne are currently being implemented. The option for Inco Copper Cliff is being considered by the company. Options identified by Hatch for the other facilities are not currently planned based on available information.

Prediction of Future Releases

The predicted future releases are shown in Table S3. Data for 1988 and 1998 are from the questionnaires, while predictions for 2008 and Beyond 2008 are Hatch estimates assuming the implementation of the options identified in Table S2.

Also shown in Table S3 are the percentage reduction these release levels represent when compared to the 1988 base year.

Based on the predictions, the sector is very close to achieving its goal of 80% reduction in the total of the CEPA-toxics by 2008 and 90% reduction beyond 2008.

Table S3:  Prediction of Releases in 2008 and Beyond 2008 (Tonnes Released)
 1988 – tonnes released1998 – tonnes released2008 – tonnes releasedBeyond 2008 – tonnes released
Arsenic3271676135
Cadmium124461911
Lead1,836543395223
Mercury28.12.51.80.5
Nickel1436314253160
CEPA-Toxics Total3,7541,073730430
Particulate Matter22,9387,4044,9872,000
Sulphur Dioxide1,797,026867,684671,000138,000
Table S3:  Prediction of Releases in 2008 and Beyond 2008 (% Reduction)
 1998 – % reduction from 19882008 – % reduction from 1988Beyond 2008 – % reduction from 1988
Arsenic49%81%89%
Cadmium63%84%91%
Lead70%78%88%
Mercury91%93%98%
Nickel78%82%89%
CEPA-Toxics Total71%81%89%
Particulate Matter68%78%91%
Sulphur Dioxide52%63%92%

Environmental Performance Standards

Environment Canada will be developing environmental performance standards based on Environmental Performance Indicators (i.e. loading), concentration and/or removal efficiencies.

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