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Technical Assessment of Environmental Performance and Emission Reduction Options for the Base Metals Smelters Sector - Final Report



On September 25, 2004 Environment Canada published a proposed Notice Requiring Preparation and Implementation of Pollution Prevention Plans in Respect of Specified Toxic Substances Released from Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants. The proposal included air release limit targets for sulphur dioxide (SO2), total particulate matter (PMT), mercury (Hg) and dioxins and furans for 2008 and 2015 as "factors to consider" in the preparation of the Pollution Prevention Plans. To better understand the technical and cost implications of these proposed targets and schedules, assessments were conducted on options to reduce emissions from six major Canadian base metals smelters.

Pollution prevention and technically feasible control options for reducing SO2 emissions were identified. These included options that involve capture, collection and cleaning of gases from smelter roasters, furnaces, and batch or continuous converters with use of single or double loop absorption sulphuric acid plants, and/or alkali scrubbers. Particulate matter emission controls include electrostatic precipitators and fabric filter baghouses as well as a variety of other techniques to reduce fugitive and area sources of dust emissions around the smelters.

Indicative capital costs, annual operating costs, and cost-effectiveness ($/tonne-reduced) estimates related to achieving the proposed air release limit targets for SO2 were prepared. The study estimated that, in order to fully achieve the proposed 2015 release reduction targets for all six smelters, the total capital costs would be approximately $1,400 million and annual operating costs would be approximately $150 million/year. The total SO2 emissions reduction would be approximately 578 kilotonnes per year. The overall average cost-effectiveness1 was estimated at $484/tonne-SO2-reduced. At some facilities the cost-effectiveness to achieve the Gazetted targets is over $1,000/tonne-SO2 reduced.

Less stringent targets and schedules that would impact a smaller number of sources and smelters, have lower capital and operating costs, and better cost-effectiveness. For example, a SO2 emission reduction of 525 kilotonnes per year (for all 6 smelters), or approximately 90% of the Gazetted targets, can be achieved at or below a cost- effectiveness of about $600/tonne of sulphur dioxide-reduced. This cost level is approximately half of recent transaction prices on the Chicago SO2 Futures Exchange market. The total cumulative capital costs to achieve close to 90% of the gazetted targets is $1,200 million, with an annualized capital plus annual operating cost of $227 million/year for the six smelters.


The intent of the report is solely to provide information to Environment Canada to support its process of evaluating management options related to improving air quality in Canada. This study should not be used for business or any other purposes.

Base metals industry participants have been co-operative with Environment Canada and the consultant in providing environmental information to support this study. However, this co-operation does not necessarily mean that the industry participants endorse the information, results or analysis contained in this report, as developed by the consultant.


The consulting team of Cheminfo Services Inc., Rubinoff Environmental, and Almonte Consulting, which prepared this report, would like to express their appreciation to industry representatives that provided valuable perspective and information during the course of this project. Special thanks go to Les Hulett of Inco, Dennis Kemp of Falconbridge, and Alan Hair of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting. In addition, there were key people at each of the smelting facilities that worked with the consulting team to provide data and technical input. There are too many to mention here but their co-operation is appreciated. Finally, the consulting team would like to thank Environment Canada Scientific Authorities for this project, namely Patrick Finlay, Serge Langdeau, Iyasu Burru and Alison Dickson. Their direction and advice were valued throughout the course of the project.

1 Cost-effectiveness equals total annualized capital costs plus total annual operating costs divided by total SO2 emission reductions.

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