2011 progress report: pollution prevention planning by smelters, refineries and zinc plants

Table of Contents

Official title: 2015 Progress Report: Pollution Prevention Planning by Base Metals Smelters and Refineries and Zinc Plants

Last updated: April 2017

Introduction

On April 29, 2006, Environment and Climate Change Canada published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, a 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 (the Notice). The Notice applies to 11 facilities (the sector) located in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

This progress report summarizes the results reported by the facilities subject to the Notice, and is the fourth progress report published by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Previous reports were published in 2009, 2010, and 2013 respectively.

This progress report draws on data from annual facility reports submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada between 2005 and 2016. It outlines the progress made in achieving the 2008 and 2015 targets for sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM), and the 2008 targets for mercury and dioxins and furans. The progress report describes how facilities have implemented their pollution prevention (P2) plans, how the factors to consider contained in the Notice were reflected in the implementation of the P2 plans, and provides a high level summary of progress achieved to date. Under the terms of the Notice, facilities were required to file an initial Declaration of Preparation, interim annual reports, and a final Declaration of Implementation. The Notice requires that Declarations of Implementation be filed within 30 days after the completion of the implementation of the P2 plans. P2 plans were to be fully implemented no later than December 31, 2015. Three of the eleven facilities subject to the Notice have been granted an extension until December 31, 2018, to fully implement their P2 plans.

Progress towards achieving the requirements of the Notice

When preparing and implementing their P2 plans, facilities were required to take into consideration a number of factors including:

  • The risk management objective: The application of best available techniques for pollution prevention and control to avoid or minimize the creation and release of pollutants and waste and to reduce the overall risk to the environment or human health
  • Achieving annual emissions targets: Development and implementation of a Smelter Emissions Reduction Program to prevent and control emissions, taking into account the achievement of annual limit targets beginning in 2008 and 2015
  • Reducing total emissions of metals: Reduction of total releases for metals from 1988 levels by 80% as of 2008 and by 90% beyond 2008, as set out in recommendation no. 1 of the Base Metals Smelting Sector Strategic Options Report
  • Community Air Quality Protection Program: Development and implementation of a Community Air Quality Protection Program (CAPP)to prevent exceedances of air quality objectives
  • Environmental Code of Practice: Recommended practices that are contained in the 2006 Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries
  • Environmental performance guideline for Mercury: Achievement of the environmental performance guideline for mercury as set out in the 2000 Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions

The Notice includes facility-specific 2008 and 2015 annual SO2 and PM targets for nine facilities. In addition, one facility was subject to a 2008 target for mercury, and another facility was subject to a 2008 target for dioxins and furans. Two low-emission facilities were not subject to targets. The following sections summarize reported achievements for each of the above factors.

Implementation status of P2 Plans

The Notice stated that the P2 plans must be fully implemented no later than December 31, 2015. As of December 31, 2015, 8 out of 11 facilities had implemented their P2 plans. The remaining three were granted an extension to December 31, 2018, to implement their P2 plans. The notice granting the time extensions was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on January 30, 2016.

Status of facilities' implementation plans
Status Facility's name as it appears in the Notice Facility's current name Year of implementation
P2 Implemented HBM&S Co. Ltd Hudbayi 2010
P2 Implemented Noranda: CEZ Glencore: CEZ 2009
P2 Implemented Falconbridge: Kidd/Timmins Glencore: Kiddii 2010
P2 Implemented Teck Cominco: Trail Operation Teck: Trail Operations 2011
P2 Implemented Inco: Port Colborne Vale: Port Colborne 2012
P2 Implemented Falconbridge: Brunswick Glencore: Brunswick 2012
P2 Implemented Falconbridge: Horne Glencore: Horne 2015
P2 Implemented Falconbridge: CCR Glencore: CCR 2015
3 year time extension Inco: Sudbury Vale: Copper Cliff 2018
3 year time extension Inco: Thompson Vale: Thompson 2018
3 year time extension Falconbridge: Sudbury Glencore: Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations 2018

Table notes

i Hudbay closed its copper smelter on June 11, 2010, but still operates a hydrometallurgical zinc plant.

ii Closed in 2010

Results

The implementation of P2 plans has reduced toxic substances releases to the environment from the base year of 2005 and most factors to consider listed in the Notice have either been met or are being achieved.

Overall reductions and meeting the risk management objective

Overall, from 2005 to 2015, the sector reported the following reductions:

  • 48% (315,995 t) for SO2
  • 52% (3,854 t) for PM
  • 90% (1,518 kg) for mercury
  • 65% (0.69 g I-TEQ) for dioxins and furans

In addition, from 2005 to 2015, reported metal releases not subject to targets under the Notice (arsenic, cadmium, lead and nickel) are decreased as follows:

  • 33% (24 t) for Arsenic
  • 86% (27 t) for Cadmium
  • 46% (80 t) for Lead
  • 63% (202 t) for Nickel

Achieving annual emissions targets

As of December 31, 2015, the status of achieving the 2008 and 2015 emissions targets by the facilities is as follows:

Targets met for SO 2, PM, Mercury and Dioxins and Furans
Facility SO2 2008 SO2 2015 PM 2008 PM 2015 Mercury 2008 Dioxins & Furans 2008
Hudbayiii Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A
Glencore: CEZ Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Glencore: Kiddiv Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Teck: Trail Operations No No Yes Yes N/A N/A
Vale: Port Colborne N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Glencore: Brunswick Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Glencore: Horne Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Glencore: CCR N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Vale: Copper Cliff Yes No No No N/A N/A
Vale: Thompson Yes No No No N/A N/A
Glencore: Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A Yes

Table notes

iii Hudbay closed its copper smelter on June 11, 2010, but still operates a hydrometallurgical zinc plant.

iv Closed in 2010

More information about the overall reductions achieved by the sector can be found in Appendix A. Detailed information on the performance achieved by each facility is provided in Appendix B.

Reducing total emissions of metals

The Notice required facilities to consider recommendation no. 1 of the ‘Strategic options for the management of toxic substances from the base metals sector' that total releases of metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel) from the sector be reduced from 1988 levels by 80% as of 2008 and by 90% beyond 2008, through the application of technically and economically feasible methods. A total metals reduction of 86% was achieved in 2008 and has been greater than 90% since 2010. Details on individual metal emissions from 2005 to 2015 can be found in Appendix A.

The Notice did not include targets for metal emissions for each facility. Metals are typically released as PM, and measures to reduce PM are generally expected to reduce metals emissions. Variation of metals content in ore concentrates is responsible for some of the year-to-year variability of annual metal emissions for each facility.

Community Air Quality Protection Program

The Notice recommended the development and implementation of a Community Air Quality Protection Program (CAPP) to prevent exceedances of air quality objectives in communities surrounding the facilities. A CAPP has been implemented at each facility. In addition for most facilities, the requirement to have a CAPP has been integrated with their provincial environmental programs.

Monitoring stations have been installed in the vicinity of individual facilities and provide automated and real-time data on air quality, mainly for SO2, PM and metals. Some facilities have control rooms equipped with environmental information systems, which provide a continuous display of SO2 levels and weather conditions. Other facilities have developed modelling systems to anticipate and help prevent exceedances of ambient air quality objectives. In addition, some facilities rely on alarm systems to warn operators when ambient air quality objectives are being exceeded, which prompt corrective actions to be taken.

Environmental Code of Practice

One of the most important factors to consider in the Notice is conformance with the 38 recommendations of the 2006 Environmental Code of Practice (the Code). Facilities were required to report annually on their conformance with the recommendations of the Code.

An amendment to the P2 Notice was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 11, 2011. The amendment updated the form (Status Report Form on Conformance with the Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries) to be used by base metals smelters when reporting on their level of conformance with the Environmental Code of Practice. The updated form was intended to facilitate the interpretation of conformance with the recommendations of the Code.

A review of the annual conformance reports (submitted by 5 facilities in 2015) indicated that 70% of the applicable recommendations had been implemented while 83% of the recommendations had been implemented by the facilities which had previously implemented their P2 plans.

Environmental performance guideline for mercury

The Notice required facilities to consider the CCME 2000 Canada-wide Standards for Mercury Emissions, which specifies that existing facilities should achieve an environmental source performance (atmospheric emissions) guideline of 2 grams of mercury per tonne of total production of finished metals. As of 2010, this standard has been met by all the facilities.

On-going progress

This report indicates that the objectives of the Notice, aimed at reducing targeted toxic substances, have either been or are being achieved. By the end of December 2015, three facilities remain subject to the Notice given the aforementioned extensions to fully implement their plans. Two of these three facilities are undergoing major upgrades and the remaining facility has announced that it will close permanently by the end of 2018.

On May 27, 2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada published proposed Performance Agreements concerning air pollutants from base metals facilities for a 60-day public consultation period. The proposed agreements were negotiated between ECCC and the base metal facilities and are the result of the implementation of Canada's Air Quality Management System (AQMS). The AQMS includes Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone, Base Level Industrial Emissions Requirements (BLIERs) and local Air Zone Management by the provincial/territorial jurisdictions. For the sector, BLIERs were developed for SO2 and PM.

The purpose of the proposed agreements is to:

  • achieve and maintain the BLIERs for emissions of SO2 and PM
  • agree to continual improvement, where reasonably feasible, with respect to:
    1. further reducing emissions of SO2 and PM
    2. reducing emissions of metals and fugitive PM
    3. implementing the applicable recommendations in the Code of Practice

Background

Canada's base metals smelting (BMS) sector includes producers of zinc, copper, lead, nickel and cobalt. The Notice applies to 11 metallurgical complexes:

  • Teck: Trail Operations, British Columbia
  • HudbayFootnote1, Manitoba
  • Vale Canada Ltd.: Thompson, Manitoba
  • Vale Canada Ltd.: Copper Cliff, Ontario
  • Vale Canada Ltd. : Port Colborne, Ontario
  • Glencore: Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, Ontario
  • Glencore: Kidd/TimminsFootnote2, Ontario
  • Glencore: Horne, Quebec
  • Glencore: CCR, Quebec
  • Glencore: CEZ, Quebec
  • Glencore: Brunswick, New Brunswick

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 to human health or life in Canada.

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

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