2009 NPRI Reviewed Facility Data Release

5. Overview of Tailings and Waste Rock Data Reported to the NPRI for 2009

This section provides an overview of data on tailings and waste rock reported to the NPRI for 2009. For detailed reports for individual facilities, see the NPRI Online Data Search or the downloadable datasets page.

There are a number of important factors to keep in mind when using and interpreting information on tailings and waste rock and other NPRI data. Please review the Considerations when using NPRI data page

In 2009, Environment Canada established new reporting requirements retroactive to 2006 for the reporting of substances disposed of in tailings and waste rock to the NPRI. These new requirements resulted from a judicial review of the NPRI program. They require that mining and other facilities must also report the quantities and concentrations of substances disposed of in tailings and waste rock management areas.

1. Reporting coverage and compliance for tailings and waste rock:

As of September 23, 2010[1], 94 mines and other facilities reported on tailings and waste rock for 2009. A breakdown by facility type is provided in Table 5.1 below. After publishing preliminary data in August 2010, Environment Canada followed up with a number of facilities that did not report as expected. As a result of these compliance promotion efforts, there is now a high level of compliance with the tailings and waste rock requirements.

The Department also confirmed that a number of potash, coal and other mines were not required to report, for reasons such as the inert nature of their waste rock and/or because their operations did not produce tailings. It has also confirmed a number of cases where two or more facilities in Natural Resources Canada’s list of mining operations reported to the NPRI as a single facility according to the NPRI’s contiguous facility definition.

Environment Canada is following up with a few remaining facilities that may have met tailings and waste rock reporting criteria but did not report.  

Table 5.1 – Facilities Reporting to the NPRI on Tailings and Waste Rock  for 2009 
Type of Mine/Mining FacilityNumber of Facilities
Metal ore (except iron ore)59
Coal9
Oil sands5
Potash4
Iron ore4
Diamond3
Asbestos (chrysotile form)2
Phosphate1
Nepheline syenite*1
Non-mining facilities reporting on tailings and waste rock, such as metal smelters and foundries6
Total94
* An igneous rock used in making glass, ceramics, roofing material, paints and glazes.

2. Contribution of NPRI substances in tailings and waste rock compared to other reported releases, disposals and transfers for 2009:

Figure 5.1 below shows the breakdown of reported tailings and waste rock for 2009 compared to total reported releases, disposals and transfers for recycling. Substances in tailings and waste rock accounted for 8.5% of total releases and transfers reported to the NPRI for 2009: 8.3% for tailings and 0.2% for waste rock.

It is important to note that a pollutant’s potential to cause harm to human health and the environment depends on a variety of factors, including whether it is released to air, water or land; its toxicity; if and to what extent it is broken down in the environment; and the resulting amount, nature and level of exposure. For example, direct releases of mercury pose a greater risk than mercury contained naturally in low concentrations in rock removed during mine operations and disposed of in a permitted area for long-term storage and management. For more information, please review the Considerations when using NPRI data page. 

Although the relative contribution of mining facilities to the overall total increased because of the new tailings and waste rock requirements, it has not increased to the same degree as in the United States, where mines account for over 30% of total reported releases and transfers. The main reason for this difference is that Canada requires reporting for several substances and sectors that are exempt from reporting in the United States. These include CACs (the key air pollutants contributing to smog and acid rain), the oil and gas extraction sector, and the wastewater sector.

Figure 5.1: Reported Tailings and Waste Rock Compared to Other NPRI Data for 2009

Figure 5.1: Reported Tailings and Wate Rock Compared to Other NPRI Data for 2009

3. Trends over time:

There are a number of factors to consider when conducting trend analysis using NPRI data, including specific considerations for the new tailings and waste rock data. For more information, see the Considerations when using NPRI data page

As shown in Figure 5.2, overall releases to air, water and land reported to the NPRI have decreased since 2003, and transfers for recycling have remained relatively constant. However, disposals other than tailings and waste rock (such as to landfills and underground injection) have increased, mainly due to reported increases in disposals of hydrogen sulphide. For reported disposals of tailings and waste rock, there was little change between 2006 and 2009.

Figure 5.2 – Substances in Tailings and Waste Rock Reported to the NPRI Compared to Other Reported Data, 2003–2009

Figure 5.2 - Substances in Tailings and Waste Rock Reported to the NPRI Compared to Other Reported Data, 2003-2009

Note: 2006 is the first year for which data on tailings and rock data were collected. 

4. Breakdown of tailings and waste rock data by sub-sector:

Based on reviewed data for 2009, metal ore mines and mills (excluding iron ore) accounted for 51.7% of the reported substances in tailings and waste rock by mass. Of those substances, metals such as manganese, zinc, copper and nickel accounted for 71%, followed by phosphorus and other nutrients at 16%, and heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury at 13% (see Table 5.2 below).

For iron ore mines, heavy metals accounted for less than 1% of the total substances in tailings and waste rock reported by this sub-sector, while other metals and nutrients accounted for over 99%.

By mass, the substances in tailings reported by oil sands mines were 2% heavy metals, 60% other metals, 27% nutrients and less than 1% PAHs. However, the PAHs from oil sands mines accounted for over 90% of the PAHs in tailings reported by all facilities.

Coal mines, other non-metallic mines and non-mining facilities such as metal smelters and fertilizer plants reported various metals, nutrients and other substances.

Table 5.2 - Reported Tailings and Waste Rock Disposals by Sub-sector and Substance Group for 2009
Sub-SectorQuantity Reported in Tailings and Waste Rock (Tonnes)
Heavy MetalsOther MetalsNutrientsPAHsOther SubstancesTotal
Metal ore mining (except iron ore)35 080191 85044 524045271 499
Iron ore mining73114 95011 07700126 100
Oil sands mining94028 74312 974213533548 206
Non-metallic mineral mining (e.g. diamond, potash)14814 369777810140323 708
Coal mining182428015 9141020 377
Non-mining facilities (e.g. metal smelters and foundries, fertilizer manufacturing)241825 27878530035 549
Total38 841379 471100 1202246783525 438
 Note: There are a number of important considerations to keep in mind when analyzing NPRI data. For example, the quantities of pollutants reported are not necessarily reflective of risk. Rather, a pollutant’s ability to cause harm to human health and the environment depends on a variety of factors. Please refer to Considerations when using NPRI data for more information.

5. Tailings and waste rock data by substance for 2009:

The tailings and waste rock reports submitted for 2009 include information on disposals and concentrations for 53 substances listed on the NPRI (see Table 5.3).

Manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and nickel account for over 80% of amounts disposed of in tailings and waste rock. Heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium), and other substances such as benzene and PAHs, were also reported.

Facilities were also required to report on the concentration of the substances in their tailings and waste rock. The concentrations reported for 2009 varied widely. For example, concentrations for arsenic in tailings ranged from 0.004 to 3450 parts per million (ppm), with a median concentration of 4.4 ppm. Reported concentrations of manganese and its compounds in waste rock ranged from 98.6 to 1909 ppm, with a median of 765 ppm (see Table 5.4 below).

All reported information on the concentration of substances in tailings and waste rock is available through the NPRI Online Data Search. Search for an individual facility, and then select the report for a specific substance.

Table 5.3 – Tailings and Waste Rock: Summary of Reported Substances and Concentrations for 2009
SubstanceNumber of facilities reportingQuantity reported in tailings and waste rock (tonnes)Median of reported concentrations (ppm)
TailingsWaste rockTotal tailings and waste rockTailingsWaste rock
Manganese (and its compounds)60189 1771148190 325260765
Phosphorus (total)3595 51118995 7002301538
Copper (and its compounds)6357 61681658 43292.3134
Zinc (and its compounds)6155 26411955 38354.667.7
Nickel (and its compounds)5036 49513636 63111.478.6
Lead (and its compounds)7824 39966425 06313.510.9
Arsenic (and its compounds)8113 01353513 5484.410
Chromium (and its compounds)4510 719231213 0313060
Aluminum oxide (fibrous forms)25257545710 714n/an/a
Vanadium (except when in an alloy) and its compounds4083316583954187
Total reduced sulphur (TRS)25164475211n/an/a
Ammonia (total)841461741631.55n/a
Cobalt (and its compounds)37369253374517.224.4
Aluminum (fume or dust)1183501835n/an/a
n-Hexane1144401444n/an/a
Chlorine1138401384n/an/a
Toluene41287012870.492n/a
Ethylbenzene31033010330.353n/a
Xylene (all isomers)31002010021.616n/a
Antimony (and its compounds)95500.0205503.36.48
Selenium (and its compounds)173120.5743133.0754.255
Phenol (and its salts)228402840.402n/a
Nitrate ion in solution at pH ≥ 6.0425602561.25n/a
Cadmium (and its compounds)59189162060.40.46
Benzene316201620.0728n/a
Ethylene glycol11230123n/an/a
Silver (and its compounds)111170.0561171.8250.43
Phenanthrene - PAH6700700.108n/a
Fluorine245045n/an/a
Pyrene – PAH6340340.046n/a
Benzo(a)phenanthrene – PAH130030n/an/a
Benzo(a)anthracene – PAH5190190.00674n/a
Asbestos (friable form)117017n/a n/a
Mercury (and its compounds)46150.881160.05740.0625
Acenaphthene - PAH6140140.0087n/a
Perylene – PAH4110110.007925n/a
Benzo(e)pyrene - PAH5110110.012n/a
Tetraethyl lead17.407.4n/an/a
Fluorene – PAH57.207.20.0082n/a
Fluoranthene - PAH66.106.10.008575n/a
Naphthalene - PAH14.504.5n/an/a
Benzo(g,h,i)perylene – PAH54.004.00.0059n/a
Benzo(a)pyrene - PAH53.903.90.0022n/a
Benzo(b)fluoranthene – PAH43.203.20.0005n/a
Benzo(j)fluoranthene – PAH33.103.10.00204n/a
Indeno(1,2,3-c,d)pyrene – PAH31.801.80.004n/a
Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene – PAH21.601.60.00255 n/a
Hydrogen cyanide11.501.5n/a n/a
Hexavalent chromium (and its compounds)21.301.30.3 n/a
Acenaphthylene - PAH20.20300.2030.0055 n/a
Cyanides (ionic)10.05500.055n/a n/a
Benzo(k)fluoranthene – PAH20.03500.0350.0055 n/a
Dibenz(a,h)acridine – PAH10.01300.013n/an/a

6. Facilities reporting on tailings and waste rock for 2009:

A full list of the facilities that reported on tailings and waste rock for 2009 is provided in Table 5.4, along with maps showing the facility locations. Detailed reports for individual facilities can be accessed by clicking on the company/facility name or NPRI ID in the table below.

Figure 5.3 - Location of Facilities Reporting on Tailings and Waste Rock for 2009

Figure 5.4 - Location of Facilities Reporting on Tailings and Waste Rock for 2009 (Inset for Selected Locations)

Figure 5.4 - Location of Facilities Reporting on Tailings and Waste Rock

Table 5.4 - List of Facilities Reporting on Tailings and Waste Rock to the National Pollutant Release Inventory for 2009 (With Links to Summary Reports for Each Facility)
Map#Company / facility nameCityProvinceNPRI IDFacility typeProduct(s)*
1Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd - Goldex DivisionVal d'OrQC8768Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
2Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd - Lapa DivisionRivière-HévaQC8765Underground mine and processing plantAu
3Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd - Laronde DivisionCadillacQC99Underground mine and concentratorAu,Zn, Cu, Pb, Ag
4Agrium - Kapuskasing Phosphate OperationsKapuskasingON5684Open pit mine and processing plantPhosphate
5Agrium - Redwater Fertilizer OperationsRedwaterAB2134Fertilizer plantFertilizer
6Agrium - Vanscoy Potash OperationsVanscoySK1177Underground minePotash, salt
7Apollo Gold Corporation - Black Fox MineMathesonON3810Underground mineAu
8ArcelorMittal Mines Canada - Mine de Mont-WrightFermontQC6217Open-pit mine and concentratorFe
9ArcelorMittal Mines Canada - Usine de bouletagePort-CartierQC2000Pelletizing plantFe
10AREVA Resources Canada Inc. - McClean Lake OperationsSaskatoonSK4866Open-pit mine and concentratorU
11Barrick Gold Inc. - Eskay Creek MineSmithersBC5134Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
12BHP Billiton Canada Inc. - EKATI Diamond MineYellowknifeNT5236Open-pit mine, underground mine and processing plantDiamond
13Cameco - Key Lake OperationSaskatoonSK1148ConcentratorU
14Cameco - Rabbit Lake OperationSaskatoonSK1147Underground mine and concentratorU
15Canadian Natural Resources Limited - Horizon Oil Sands Processing Plant and MineFort McMurrayAB23275Open-pit mine and processing plantBitumen
16Coal Valley Resources Inc. - Coal Valley MineEdsonAB1585Open-pit mine and processing plantCoal
17Corporation Minière Inmet - Division TroilusChibougamauQC5464Open-pit mine and concentratorAu, Ag, Cu
18Crew Gold (Canada) Limited - Nugget Pond FacilityBaie VerteNL8015ConcentratorAu
19Crowflight Minerals Incorporated - Bucko Lake MineWabowdenMB23274Underground mine and concentratorNi , Cu, Co, PGM
20De Beers Canada Incorporated - Snap Lake MineYellowknifeNT18714Underground mine and processing plantDiamond
21Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. - Lac de Grasn/aNT18241Open-pit mine, underground mine and processing plantDiamond
22FNX Mining Company Inc. - Levack MineLevackON11608Underground mineCu, Ni, PM
23Fortytwo Metals Inc. - Max MineTrout LakeBC20174Underground mine and concentratorMo
24Gibraltar Mines Ltd. - Gibraltar MineMcLeese LakeBC1303Open-pit mine and concentratorCu, Mo
25Goldcorp Canada Limited - Dome MineSouth PorcupineON1941Underground mine and concentratorAu
26Goldcorp Canada Limited - Musselwhite MinePickle LakeON5656Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
27Goldcorp Canada Limited - Red Lake Gold MinesBalmertownON2710Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
28Highland Valley Copper - Highland Valley CorporationLogan LakeBC3356Open-pit mine and concentratorCu, Mo
29Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited - HBMS Metallurgical ComplexFlin FlonMB3414Underground mine and concentratorCu, Zn, Au, Ag
30Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited - HBMS Snow Lake MillSnow LakeMB3411Underground mine and concentratorZn, Cu
31IAMGOLD Corporation - La mine DoyonRouyn-NorandaQC1608Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
32IAMGOLD Corporation - La Mine NiobecSt-Honoré (Martel)QC2100Underground mine and concentratorNb, Ta
33IAMGOLD Corporation - Mine MouskaCadillacQC8624Underground mineAu, Cu, Ag
34Imperial Metals Corporation - Huckleberry Mines Ltd.HoustonBC5146Open-pit mine and concentratorCu, Mo, Au
35Imperial Metals Corporation - Mount Polley MineLikelyBC5102Open-pit mine and concentratorAu, Cu
36Iron Ore Company of Canada - Carol ProjectLabrador CityNL5013Open-pit mineFe
37Kirkland Lake Gold - Macassa MineKirkland LakeON1568Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
38LAB Chrysotile - Lab Chrysotile - Thetford MinesThetford MinesQC1564Underground mine and processing plantAsbestos
39Liberty Mines Inc - Redstone Mine and MillSouth PorcupineON11514Underground mineNi
40Mine Jeffrey Inc. – Jeffrey MineAsbestosQC465Open pit mineAsbestos
41Mines Aurizon -Casa BerardiLa SarreQC8600Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
42Mines Richmont inc - Usine Camflo incMalarticQC8519ConcentratorAu, Ag
43Minto Explorations Ltd. – Minto MineMintoYK8880000002Open pit mine and millCu, Ag, Au
44Newmont Canada Corporation - Golden Giant MineDistrict of Thunder BayON1400Underground mineAu
45Northgate Minerals Corporation - Kemess MineSmithersBC20131Open-pit mine and concentratorAu, Cu
46NVI Mining Ltd. - Myra Falls OperationsCampbell RiverBC2372Underground mine and concentratorZn, Cu, Au, Ag
47Peace River Coal Inc.- Trend MineTumbler RidgeBC20129Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
48Potash Corp - CorySaskatoonSK6507Underground minePotash
49Potash Corp - Allan DivisionAllanSK2406Underground mine and millPotash
50Potash Corp – Lanigan DivisionLaniganSK1885Underground minePotash
51QIT-Fer et Titane P84Sorel-TracyQC8770Mill, processing plant and foundryTi, Fe
52Ressources Cadiscor - Mine Géant DormantAmosQC1143Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
53Ressources Métanor inc. - Mine BachelorDesmaraisvilleQC8769Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
54Rio Tinto Alcan - Usine VaudreuilJonquièreQC2978SmelterAluminum
55Shell Canada Energy - Shell Albian Sands Muskeg River MineFt. McMurrayAB6647Open-pit mineBitumen
56SMC (Canada) - McAlpine MillCobaltON10622MillPM, BM
57St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd. - Holloway MineCochraneON7051Underground mineAu
58Suncor Energy Oil Sands Limited Partnership - Suncor Energy Inc. Oil SandsFort McMurrayAB2230Open-pit mine and processing plantBitumen
59Syncrude Canada - Aurora North Mine SiteFort McMurrayAB6572Open-pit mineBitumen
60Syncrude Canada - Mildred Lake Plant SiteFort McMurrayAB2274Open-pit mine and processing plantBitumen
61Tantalum Mining of Canada - Bernic Lake MinesiteLac du BonnetMB2278Underground mine and concentratorTa, Li, Cs, Rb
62Teck Coal Limited - Cardinal River OperationsHintonAB6895Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
63Teck Coal Limited - Coal Mountain OperationsSparwoodBC6674Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
64Teck Coal Limited - Elkview OperationsSparwoodBC7838Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
65Teck Coal Limited - Fording River OperationsElkfordBC6669Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
66Teck Coal Limited - Greenhills OperationsElkfordBC6671Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
67Teck Coal Limited - Line Creek OperationsSparwoodBC7839Open pit mine and processing plantCoal
68Teck Resources Limited - Duck Pond OperationsMillertownNL8084Underground mine and concentratorCu, Zn
69The Cobalt Refinery Company Inc. - Fort SaskatchewanFort SaskatchewanAB4868SmelterNi, Co
70Thompson Creek Mining Ltd. - Endako MineEndakoBC2794Open-pit mine and concentratorMo
71Unimin Canada - Nepheline Syenite OperationsHavelockON10625Open-pit mine and processing plantNepheline syenite
72Vale Inco - Clarabelle MillCopper CliffON1465ConcentratorNi, Co, Cu, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
73Vale Inco - Creighton MineLivelyON10201Underground mineNi, Cu, Co, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
74Vale Inco - Frood-Stobie MineSudburyON10205Underground mineNi, Cu, Co, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
75Vale Inco - Garson MineGarsonON10202Underground mineNi, Cu, Co, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
76Vale Inco - North MineCopper CliffON10203Underground mineNi, Cu, Co, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
77Vale Inco - Thompson OperationsThompsonMB1473Underground mine and concentratorNi, Cu, Co, PGM
78Vale Newfoundland and Labrador - Voisey's Bay Mine SiteHappy Valley - Goose BayNL6093Open-pit mine and concentratorNi, Cu, Co
79Wabush Mines - Scully MineWabushNL5460Open-pit mine and concentratorFe
80Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. - Eagle River MillWawaON10010Underground mine and concentratorAu
81Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. – Kiena ComplexVal-d'OrQC2935Underground mine and concentratorAu, Ag
82Western Canadian Coal Corp - Wolverine MineTumbler RidgeBC20116Open-pit mine and processing plantCoal
83Williams Operating Corporation - Williams MineMarathonON3197Underground Mine, open-pit mine and concentratorAu
84Xstrata Canada Corporation - Brunswick MineBathurstNB54Underground mine and concentratorPb, Zn, Cu, Ag, Au
85Xstrata Canada Corporation - Nickel Rim South ProjectSkead/City of Greater SudburyON11588Underground mineNi, Cu, PGM
86Xstrata Canada Corporation - Sudbury Nickel Smelter ComplexFalconbridgeON1236SmelterCu, Ni
87Xstrata Canada Corporation - Sudbury Operations Mines/Mill - Onaping AreaOnapingON1233Underground mineCu, Ni, Co, PGM, Au, Ag, Se, Te
88Xstrata Canada Corporation - Xstrata Copper Canada Division, Kidd Metallurgical SiteTimmins/District of CochraneON2815SmelterCu, Zn, In,Cd, Ag, Sulphuric acid
89Xstrata Canada Corporation - Xstrata Copper Canada Division, Kidd Mine SiteTimminsON10153Underground mine and concentratorCu, Zn, Ag, Se, Te, In, Cd
90Xstrata Canada Corporation - Xstrata Nickel - Mine RaglanRouyn-NorandaQC5448Open-pit mine and underground mine and concentratorNi, Cu, Co, PGM
91Xstrata Copper Canada - Fonderie HorneRouyn-NorandaQC3623Underground mineCu, sulphuric acid
92Xstrata Nickel - MontcalmTimminsON11032Underground mineNi, Cu, Co, PGM
93Xstrata Zinc Canada - Mine MatagamiMatagamiQC1611Underground mine and concentratorlZn, Cu
94Xstrata Zinc Canada - PersévéranceMatagamiQC8701ConcentratorZn, Cu, Au, Ag

Source: Environment Canada, National Pollutant Release Inventory 2009; and Natural Resources Canada, List of Mining and Mineral Processing Operations, 2009.

Note: Due to the NPRI’s contiguous facility definition, there are a number of cases where two or more facilities in Natural Resources Canada’s list of mining and processing operations reported to the NPRI as a single facility.

* Product Type Legend

Ag - Silver
Al - Aluminum
Au - Gold
BM - Base metals
Bi - Bismuth
Cd - Cadmium
Cs - Cesium
Co - Cobalt
Cu - Copper
Fe - Iron
Ge - Germanium
In - Indium
Li - Lithium
Mg - Magnesium
Mo - Molybdenum
Nb - Niobium
Ni - Nickel
Pb - Lead
PGM - Platinum group metals
PM - Precious metals
Pt - Platinum
Rb - Rubidium
Sb - Antimony
Se - Selenium
Sn - Tin
Ta - Tantalum
Te - Tellurium
Ti - Titanium
U - Uranium
W - Tungsten
Zn - Zinc


[1] The September 23, 2010 version of the NPRI database (published on December 20, 2010) was used for this analysis.