Overview of the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations

Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act and its associated regulations, such as the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations.

Determine if the Regulations apply

A metal or diamond mine becomes subject to the Regulations when it:

Exclusions

 

General Overview: New Metal or Diamond Mines

Mine tip 1: General Overview: New Metal or Diamond Mines [PDF – 895 KB]

Federal Regulations under the Fisheries Act may apply to you.

To help protect fish and fish habitat, the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations regulate the deposit of mine effluent and waste rock into water frequented by fish.

The Regulations may apply to your mine if:

  • It is a metal mine or a diamond mine;
  • It exceeds an effluent flow rate of 50 m3 per day at any time, based on the effluent deposited from all the final discharge points of the mine; and
  • It deposits a deleterious substance that enters or may enter water frequented by fish as described in subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

Authority to deposit effluent

Section 4 of the Regulations authorizes the deposit of effluent containing deleterious substances prescribed in section 3 (arsenic, copper, cyanide, lead, nickel, zinc, suspended solids, radium 226 and un-ionized ammonia) in any water or place referred to in subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act if:

  • You comply with sections 6 to 27;
  • Concentrations of the deleterious substances in effluent do not exceed the maximum concentrations authorized in Schedule 4;
  • pH of effluent is within a specified range (6.0 – 9.5);
  • Effluent is not acutely lethal.

Based on some of the requirements of sections 6 to 27 of the Regulations, the owner or operator of a mine must:

  • submit information to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) no later than 60 days after the mine becomes subject to the Regulations (subsection 8(2) and section 9);
  • not combine effluent with water or any other effluent for the purpose of diluting effluent before it is deposited (section 6);
  • conduct Environmental Effects Monitoring studies (section 7 and Schedule 5);
  • monitor and test all effluents, and report results (Part 2, Division 2);
  • notify ECCC when there are changes to the commercial operation status of the mine (section 26); and
  • keep for at least 5 years all records, books of accounts or other required documents (sections 11 and 27).

Tailings Impoundment Areas

Section 5 of the Regulations authorizes the deposit of mine waste (such as waste rock, tailings and effluent) containing any concentration of deleterious substance into a tailings impoundment area (TIA) that is either:

  • a water or place set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations; or
  • a confined disposal area other than a disposal area that is or is part of a natural water body that is frequented by fish.

For a metal or diamond mining project that proposes to use a natural water body frequented by fish as a TIA, it is the proponent’s responsibility to:

  • prepare an assessment of alternatives for mine waste disposal;
  • prepare a fish habitat compensation plan (section 27.1); and
  • participate in public and Indigenous consultations.

You may be authorized to deposit into a TIA if you comply with sections 7 to 28.

List of available factsheets

Mine Tip 1:  General Overview: New Metal and Diamond Mines

Mine Tip 2:  Reporting Information

Mine Tip 3:  Final Discharge Points

Reporting Information

Mine tip 2: Reporting Information [PDF – 895 KB]

Under the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations, you are required to notify, submit and report information about your mine to Environment and Climate Change Canada. The information is to be submitted in the Mine Effluent Reporting System (MERS), the Environmental Effects Monitoring Electronic Reporting System (EEMER) or directly to an inspector, depending on the type of information.  MERS and EEMER are accessible through the Single Window Information Manager.

Information to be submitted Recipient of information
Section 8 – Identifying information
Sections 9 & 10 – Final Discharge Points
Sections 13 & 16 – Reduced frequency notification
Sections 21 & 22 – Reporting Monitoring Results
Section 26 – End of or Return to Commercial Operation
Section 32 – Recognized Closed Mines Requirements
Section 33 – Recognized Closed Mines Identification information
SCHEDULE 5, Section 8 – Information Related to Effluent and Water Quality Monitoring Studies
SCHEDULE 5, Section 11, 14 & 19 – Inability to follow the study designFootnote 1
SCHEDULE 5, Section 17 – Cessation of discharge
Minister of the Environment, via Mine Effluent Reporting System (MERS), https://ec.ss.ec.gc.ca/

SCHEDULE 5, Section 10, 13 & 18 – Study Design
SCHEDULE 5, Section 12, 16 & 20 – Interpretative report
SCHEDULE 5, Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) Biological Monitoring Studies Data

Minister of the Environment, via the Environmental Effects Monitoring Electronic Reporting (EEMER) System,
https://ec.ss.ec.gc.ca/

Section 24 – Effluent monitoring exceedance

Section 25 – Unforeseen circumstances rendering the collection of samples impracticable

Sections 31 & 31.1 – Unauthorized Deposits

Inspector
Final Discharge Points

Mine tip 3: Final Discharge Points [PDF – 895 KB]

Under the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations, a final discharge point is an identifiable discharge point of a mine beyond which the operator of the mine no longer exercises control over the quality of the effluent.

As an owner or operator, you are required to submit information about each final discharge point at the mine.

When to submit information

You must identify each final discharge point and submit a notification to Environment and Climate Change Canada not later than 60 days after the mine becomes subject to the Regulations (section 9).

You must also submit a notification when:

  • a new final discharge point is established (at least 60 days before effluent is deposited) (paragraph 10(1)(b));
  • any change to a final discharge point is proposed  (at least 60 days before the change is made) (subsection 10(2));
  • a final discharge point that was not identified in the initial notification is identified by an inspector (within 30 days after the identification) (paragraph 10(1)(a)).

What to include in a final discharge point notification

  • plans, specifications and a general description of each final discharge point together with its location by latitude and longitude (paragraph 9(a)):
    • plans may include a detailed map, as-built diagram and technical drawing;
    • specifications may include a detailed description of the design and materials used to establish the final discharge point, including measurements;
    • photos may also be included to characterize the final discharge point;
  • a description of how each final discharge point is designed and maintained in respect of the deposit of deleterious substances (paragraph 9(b)):
    • final discharge points should be designed and maintained to enable testing of deleterious substances, pH and acute lethality, as well as measurement of the flow rate or volume of effluent deposited (division 2); and
  • the name of the receiving body of water, if there is a name (paragraph 9(c)).

How to submit a final discharge point notification

You may submit your notification via the Mine Effluent Reporting System, accessible through the Single Window Information Manager.

Disclaimer

This information does not in any way supersede or modify the Fisheries Act or the Regulations. In the event of an inconsistency between this information and the official version of the Act and/or the regulations, the Act and the Regulations prevail.

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