This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants

2007 Progress Report - Pollution Prevention Planning from Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants


Last Updated: May 2009

2007 Progress Report - Pollution Prevention Planning from Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants (PDF; 196 KB)

This first status report provides an overview of the results from the 11 facilities subject to the Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of Pollution Prevention Plans from base metals smelters and refineries and zinc plants. This report draws on data from 2005 to 2007 contained in reports received by Environment Canada. It reviews facilities’ progress towards meeting their 2008 targets for sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury and dioxins and furans and in reducing releases of arsenic, cadmium, lead and nickel. The interim data for 2008 will be submitted to Environment Canada on June 1, 2009, and a second status report will be published in late 2009.

 

 

Base metals smelting sector: what is it and why prevent pollution from it?

Canada’s base metals smelting sector includes producers of zinc, copper, lead, nickel and cobalt. It consists of 11 metallurgical complexes located in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick:

  • Teck Cominco-Trail Operations
  • Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS)
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Copper Cliff
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Thompson
  • Xstrata Nickel Sudbury
  • Xstrata Copper Canada-Kidd/Timmins
  • Xstrata Copper Canada-Horne
  • Xstrata Canada Corporation-CCR
  • Xstrata Canada Corporation-Brunswick
  • Xstrata Zinc-CEZ
  • Vale Inco Ltd.-Port Colborne

These facilities release substances specified on the List of Toxic Substances (Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999).

Assessment of these releases led to the conclusion that they enter the environment in quantity, concentration or conditions that can have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or biological diversity, and that constitute a danger in Canada to human health or life.

Toxic substances contained in those releases include sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter of less than 10 microns (PM10), particulate matter containing metals released from copper smelters, particulate matter containing metals released from zinc plants, mercury, dioxins and furans, lead, inorganic arsenic compounds, inorganic cadmium compounds and oxidic, sulphidic, and soluble inorganic nickel compounds.


Data from 2007 shows that six out of nine, or 67 percent of the facilities, reported releases that are less than their 2008 targets for sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. Facilities also reported overall reductions of 6.5 percent for sulphur dioxide, 30 percent for particulate matter, 12 percent for mercury, 22 percent for cadmium and 41 percent for nickel compared to 2005 releases.



Pollution prevention planning Notice requirements

On April 29, 2006, Environment Canada published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, a Notice requiring the preparation and implementation of Pollution Prevention Plans (P2 Plans) in respect of specified toxic substances released from base metals smelters and refineries and zinc plants. This Notice applies to the 11 facilities and the toxic substances indicated above. In the preparation and implementation of their P2 Plans, facilities have to take into consideration a number of factors that include: 

  • Recommended practices in the Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters;
  • Development and implementation of a Community Air Quality Protection Program (CAPP) to prevent exceedances of air quality objectives; and
  • Development and implementation of a Smelter Emissions Reduction Program (SERP) to prevent and control releases.

The Notice includes 2008 and 2015 annual limit targets for nine facilities for both sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. In addition, one facility is subject to a 2008 target for mercury, and another facility to a 2008 target for dioxins and furans. Two facilities, Vale Inco Ltd.-Port Colborne and Xstrata Canada Corporation-CCR are subject to the Notice; however, they do not have targets due to their low level releases.

Facilities are required to submit a Declaration of Preparation to Environment Canada to indicate that they have prepared a P2 Plan. In addition, facilities must submit an interim report every June 1 to Environment Canada until their P2 Plans are fully implemented. To date, all 11 facilities have submitted their Declaration of Preparation and interim reports in 2006 and 2007.

This report draws on data contained in the Declaration of Preparation and the first two interim reports received by Environment Canada. These documents for the 11 facilities subject to the Notice are publicly available at Environment Canada's Pollution Prevention Planning Database and Web site. The interim reports containing data for 2008 will be submitted to Environment Canada on June 1, 2009.


Anticipated results

Following publication of the Notice, facilities had six months to prepare a P2 Plan and submit a Declaration that a P2 Plan had been prepared. In those Declarations of Preparation, facilities identified pollution prevention and control measures to be put in place and described their anticipated results.

A review of the Declarations of Preparation has shown that by implementing their P2 Plans facilities expect to achieve the following results: 

  • Sulphur dioxide:eight facilities expect to meet their targets in 2008 and 2015;
  • Particulate matter: five facilities expect to meet their targets in 2008 and seven facilities expect to meet their targets in 2015;
  • Dioxins and furans: the facility with a dioxins and furans target expects to meet the target in 2008;
  • Mercury: it was not possible to determine whether the target for mercury is expected to be met based on information supplied by the facility subject to a 2008 target;
  • Metals: releases of metals are expected to be reduced by up to 70 percent by 2008 and by up to 90 percent by 2015 from their 2005 levels.

Progress towards meeting targets

To date, Environment Canada has received two interim reports. Analysis of the data submitted by the facilities for 2006 and 2007 indicates:

  • Sulphur dioxide:six facilities out of nine have reported discharges that are less than their 2008 targets
  • Particulate matter: six facilities out of nine have reported discharges that are less than their 2008 targets
  • Mercury: the facility subject to a 2008 target has reported releases that are greater than the 2008 target
  • Dioxins and furans: the facility subject to a 2008 target has reported releases that are greater than the 2008 target


Overall results

In 2007, total releases of five toxic substances, sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, cadmium and nickel were reduced from their 2005 levels. Facilities reported overall reductions of 6.5 percent for sulphur dioxide, 30 percent for particulate matter, 12 percent for mercury, 22 percent for cadmium and 41 percent for nickel compared to 2005 releases. Although the total 2008 targets for SO2 are higher than the total 2007 releases, it is not expected that releases will increase up to that level for 2008 evaluation. It should be noted that these are overall reductions and that not all facilities reported a decrease in their releases of these substances.

Over the same period, total releases of three toxic substances, arsenic, lead and dioxins and furans increased. Total releases in 2007 were increased by 2 percent for arsenic, by 3 percent for lead, and by 123% or from 1.09 grams/year in 2005 to 2.4 grams/year in 2007 for dioxins and furans. Two reasons can explain why releases of dioxins and furans have increased by a large amount in 2007. First, in 2005 and 2006 Xstrata Sudbury reported releases (0.54 and 0.56 grams) that were lower than their historical level of releases (1.8 grams in 2004). The lower releases for 2005 and 2006 are attributed to reduced production levels during these years. Also, in 2007, the Xstrata Horne facility processed a larger quantity of recyclables leading to more fugitive releases (0.3 grams) associated to an increased use of the induction furnace.

More information about the releases reported by the facilities can be found in the appendices. Appendix A provides the overall results for the toxic substances, Appendix B provides a summary of the 2007 releases from the facilities and Appendix C provides the releases from individual facilities from 2005 to 2007.


Pollution prevention methods used to achieve results

The Government believes that pollution prevention is the most effective means of protecting the environment, eliminating costly waste, and promoting sustainable development. P2 focuses on avoiding the creation of pollutants rather than trying to manage them after they have been created. As a factor to consider in preparing a P2 plan, priority is to be given to P2 activities. In their Declaration of Preparation, facilities indicated that 92 percent of their actions toward achieving the objectives were P2 in nature. Pollution control activities as measures of environmental protection have been used by 8 percent of facilities.

Pollution prevention methods used to achieve results

Continuing progress

Analysis of the 2007 interim report indicates that the implementation of P2 plans is reducing the amount of toxic substances released and that most facilities are expected to meet their 2008 targets. If this trend continues over the coming period, it should encourage the facilities that are still striving to meet the 2008 targets. Environment Canada will continue to monitor and evaluate the progress of facilities in order to determine if the objectives of the P2 plan are being achieved.


Sources: Pollution Prevention Planning Database and Web site

 
Table of Contents
Date modified: