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


1.1 Background
1.2 Purpose and Scope of Report
1.3 Methodology
1.3.1 Emissions Data
1.3.2 Technology Identification
1.3.3 Costing Approaches

1.1 Background

The non-ferrous base metal smelting and refining sector includes producers of copper, nickel, lead, zinc, and cobalt. Canada is among the world's leading producers of all of these base metals. The Canadian sector consists of 11 metallurgical complexes located in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. The sector is a significant contributor to overall emissions of several pollutants in Canada. For example in 2000, the sector contributed 48% of industrial sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions and 33% of total SO2 emissions in Canada.2 In addition, the facilities within the sector are emitters of various metals and metal compounds of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and nickel. The majority of these metals is contained in particulate matter (PM) released to air from the facilities.

On September 25, 2004, Environment Canada proposed a Pollution Prevention Plan Notice,3 in the Canada Gazette I with annual sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) air release limit targets for nine base metal smelters and refineries for the years 2008 and 2015 as "factors to consider" in preparing Pollution Prevention (P2) Plans. The targets are different for each smelter. In addition to SO2 and PM targets, annual air release targets for mercury and dioxins and furans were proposed for some smelters with relatively high levels of emissions of these pollutants.

1.2 Purpose and Scope of Report

This report provides Environment Canada with information and analysis related to technically feasible options and related costs for achieving the 2008 and 2015 emission targets for six (6) smelters as contained in the September 25, 2004 Canada Gazette I Notice. These facilities represent 90-95% of total Canadian base metal sector's SO2 emissions and nearly 60% of total sector's PM emissions.

The six facilities are as follows:

  • Falconbridge Ltd, Horne Smelter - Rouyn-Noranda, QC;
  • Falconbridge Ltd., Sudbury Smelter - Falconbridge, ON;
  • Falconbridge Ltd., Brunswick Smelter - Belledune, NB;
  • Inco Ltd., Thompson Smelter - Thompson, MB;
  • Inco Ltd., Copper Cliff Smelter - Copper Cliff, ON (also referred to as Sudbury smelter); and
  • Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited, Flin Flon Metallurgical Complex - Flin Flon, MB (HBMS).

1.3 Methodology

This report was prepared by a team of consulting firms consisting of Cheminfo Services Inc., Rubinoff Environmental and Almonte Consulting. Cheminfo managed the project and conducted the majority of the analysis of base metal processes, emissions, reduction technologies, and costs. Dr. Weldon Thoborn of Almonte Consulting provided base metal technical expertise to the project team.

The research methodology for this study involved first gathering readily available information from existing literature and data sources. A variety of literature sources were reviewed, the most relevant of which had been developed for Environment Canada. These included studies conducted for the Strategic Options Process (SOP), well as other Environment Canada initiatives. The Multi-pollutant Emission Reduction Analysis Foundation (MERAF) for the Base Metals Smelting Sector (September 2002) was particularly useful. These and other literature sources are documented in the Bibliography. However, updated emissions data, controls already in-place, and projections to the year 2015, and other data were required for this analysis.

1.3.1 Emissions Data

The manufacturing processes and related emissions are unique to each of the 6 smelting facilities that are the focus of this study. This is a result of differences in raw materials, metal products, and emission reduction technologies and practices already in place. As a result, there was a requirement in this study to seek site and source-specific information for emitting processes and stacks. The consultant conducted personal and telephone interviews, as well as site visits for the two Sudbury smelters to collect input on the technical issues and cost factors related to opportunities and challenges associated with major emission reductions implied by the Canada Gazette I targets.

It was important in this analysis to take into consideration emission reduction technologies already in-place, as well as the concentrations of specific gaseous emission streams. This information relates to the technical feasibility of technologies, as well as the costs to address pollutants contained in these streams.

1.3.2 Technology Identification

A variety of emission control technologies and pollution prevention practices were identified from literature sources, as well as through collaboration with company representatives from all of the 6 base metal smelters. While some technologies are generic in that they can be applied to a variety of emission sources in different facilities (e.g., alkali scrubbing for sulphur dioxide emissions), many of the technology solutions that need to be applied in combination in order to achieve the Canada Gazette I targets, are unique to each facility. Input from company representatives was sought and obtained regarding options that were relevant and technically feasible for their facilities.

1.3.3 Costing Approaches

A variety of methods were applied to estimate costs for technology solutions identified. These included:

  • vendor estimates (e.g., sulphuric acid plants, double absorption)
  • application of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cost models (limestone scrubbing, lime scrubbing); and
  • direct input by base metal companies.

For generic technologies, such as alkali scrubbing and sulphuric acid plants, vendors were contacted to obtain rough estimates. The estimates were based on the amount of SO2 being addressed or the amount of sulphuric acid that would be produced. For some facilities, for alkali scrubbing technologies (e.g., lime or limestone scrubbing), US EPA cost models were applied (where no other estimates were available). Standard cost algorithms developed by the U.S. EPA are available and can be applied to develop cost estimates for SO2 emission reductions. The models applied can be obtained directly from the US EPA internet site locations: (i.e., Base metal facility data required for the models were provided by each of the facilities, where this information was needed. This included data on emission gas flow rates, temperatures, and pollutant concentrations for specific streams that would need to be treated.

Cost estimates were provided by some of the base metal companies for some technologies. In some cases, the companies had conducted engineering analysis to identify unique technologies and estimate costs for options. In general, this information was considered proprietary by the base metal companies, and therefore facility-specific cost estimates are not identified in this report.

The costs presented in this report can only be considered order-of-magnitude with respect to accuracy (or "indicative"). Many site-specific factors, which can be identified through detailed engineering analysis (beyond the scope of this study), can affect capital, installation and operating costs. The cost estimates are solely meant to provide Environment Canada with reference points for comparing options that could be applied to achieve the Gazette I targets. Further work, including engineering studies, is suggested to refine these estimates, if desired.

With respect to capital cost amortization, for the purposes of this study, the service life of the emission control equipment was assumed to be 20 years and the discount rate was assumed at 7%. Maintenance costs to achieve this service life are included in annual operating costs. Capital is amortized to annualized capital costs using the compound amortization method. Annual operating costs include energy, labour, maintenance, reagents (e.g., alkali), and other costs or savings. Annualized capital costs are added to annual operating costs to estimate total annual costs. Total annual costs are divided by the mass of emission reduction achieved by the technology to estimate cost-effectiveness ($/tonne-reduced). Further work and economic sensitivity analysis, using different assumptions, could be conducted in the future, if desired.

2 Environment Canada, CAC Emission Summaries: 2000 Criteria Air Contaminant Emissions for Canada, December 2004.

3 Canada Gazette Part I, September 2004, Notice Requiring the Preparation and Implementation of Pollution Prevention Plans in Respect of Specified Toxic Substances Released from Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants.

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