Implementation plan for Canada-wide standards on base metal smelting facilities


Signed by Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Ministers in June, 2000.

Brief statement of problem

Mercury is a mineral, which persists in the environment and which accumulates over time and in fish consumed by humans and wildlife. Control actions for persistent compounds such as mercury can only reduce the man-made emissions, so as to reduce levels to approaching background levels.

Mercury levels in fish across much of Canada exceed those considered safe for human consumption, and some wildlife populations are affected by high mercury levels.

The Canada-wide standards (CWS) for base metal smelting addresses what has been traditionally Canada's largest source of mercury emissions.

General accountability

The federal government's approach to management of mercury emissions from new base metal smelting facilities will be to support the CWS through the CCME Harmonization Accord as the federal government does not own or operate any such facilities.

More specifically Federal government will:

  • establish a Strategic Options Implementation Committee, which will serve as the focal point for monitoring implementation progress;
  • maintain an emissions database in order to track emissions of Mercury in Federal government;
  • support international action to reduce anthropogenic mercury emissions; and,
  • support the Accelerated reduction/elimination of toxics (ARET) and NPRI offices as major public reporting mechanisms for mercury emission rates.

The federal government will continue to promote sound management practices including practices aimed at minimizing impacts due to mercury through initiatives such as Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, Secondary Lead Smelter Regulations, etc.

Public role / transparency

Under sections 208(2) and 209(3) of Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), Part 9, the Minister will offer to consult with the governments of the specified jurisdictions. Public feedback comment may be obtained through these means during the assessment phase for new base metal smelting facilities. Public meetings may be held as appropriate to afford local stakeholders the opportunity to have input to the assessment process or to provide information of interest to the public respecting existing facilities. In this way the public will have the ability to ensure that the CWS will be met at any new or existing facility.

Access to information

Once operational, information on mercury emissions may be obtained through direct request to the department or through the information gathering authorities under CEPA 1999. Emissions information will be made available through the National Pollutants Release Inventory mandated under the CEPA 1999.

Verifiable progress

Under Section 46, CEPA 1999, the federal Minister may require jurisdictions described under Part 9 to report information as requested or as set out under CEPA 1999.


New and existing base metal smelters in jurisdictions described under Part 9, CEPA 1999, may be required to meet emission limits for other pollutants. It is anticipated that particulate matter, dioxins and furans, other metal emissions and criteria air contaminants may also be controlled in any new or existing base metal smelting facilities.

Life-cycle issues

These considerations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis as each facility is reviewed.

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