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Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries: Code of Practice, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Summary

S.1 Context

Various environmental initiatives and legislation provide context for the development of an Environmental Code of Practice for the base metals smelting and refining sector.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), there are provisions for developing regulations, objectives, guidelines, and codes of practice and for requiring pollution prevention plans. The Fisheries Act includes provisions for developing regulations to manage the release of deleterious substances to Canadian fishery waters.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment sets nationwide standards for various toxic substances and also agreed on the development of comprehensive Multi-pollutant Emission Reduction Strategies for various industrial sectors as a means for achieving the standards.

Canada is committed to reducing emissions under international agreements such as the 2000 Ozone Annex under the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Base metals smelters and refineries release various substances found on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 to CEPA 1999. A multistakeholder consultation, called the Strategic Options Process, was conducted in 1996-1997 and resulted in several recommendations for the management of toxic substances from the sector. These recommendations included the development of environmental performance standards.

These provisions are taken into account in the development of this Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries.

S.2 Code Objectives

The overall objectives of the Environmental Code of Practice are to identify and promote recommended practices as requirements for new facilities and as goals for continual improvements for existing facilities.

S.3 Code Scope, Development, and Implementation

The Environmental Code of Practice for Base Metals Smelters and Refineries includes descriptions of processes used in the sector and associated environmental concerns, as well as recommended environmental performance standards for mitigating these concerns.

The recommended practices in the Code include guidance for environmental management systems and guidelines for environmental releases to air, water, and land, based on best available techniques for pollution prevention and control.

The Code has been developed by Environment Canada in consultation with a Base metals Environmental Multistakeholder Advisory Group.

Potential options for the implementation of the Code include:

  • voluntary adoption by a corporation and/or a facility;
  • use as performance standards for environmental audits;
  • use as a benchmark for public corporate commitments and performance reporting;
  • inclusion as a commitment in an environmental performance agreement between a corporation and/or a facility and environmental protection agencies;
  • inclusion of some or all of the Code recommendations as requirements by financial lending institutions and/or insurance companies or underwriters; and
  • use of some of the Code recommendations as the basis for provincial/territorial regulations or permits or federal regulations.

S.4 Smelter and Refinery Operations and Environmental Concerns

In smelters and refineries, ores and concentrates are supplied from mines and mills, and recycled material is supplied for further recovery and purification of metals. This Code of Practice applies to both smelters and refineries of primary copper, primary and secondary lead, primary zinc, primary nickel, and primary cobalt.

Operations in this sector can include:

  • pre-treatment of the ores, concentrates and recycled material;
  • roasting;
  • smelting;
  • converting;
  • fire refining;
  • electrorefining;
  • carbonyl refining;
  • leaching;
  • electrowinning;
  • casting; and
  • process off-gas conditioning.

Pollutant releases of concern associated with these operations include:

  • process air emissions from stacks;
  • process air emissions from unenclosed process equipment and buildings;
  • fugitive air emissions from outdoor storage piles and during transfers of materials;
  • releases of pollutants accidentally or in environmental emergency;
  • water effluents from processes;
  • water effluents from site runoff; and
  • slags, sludges, slimes, and other residues and wastes.

Pollutant releases of concern in facility air emissions include:

  • sulphur dioxide;
  • particulate matter, including particulate matter less than or equal to 10 microns in size (PM10) and particulate matter less than or equal to 2.5 microns in size (PM2.5);
  • certain heavy metal compounds; and
  • certain organic compounds.

In addition to effluent acidic or alkaline pH, the following substances in water effluents and contaminated surface water and groundwater are of concern:

  • suspended and dissolved solids and metals; and
  • oil and grease.

S.5 Recommended Environmental Protection Practices

To reduce or eliminate the adverse environmental impacts associated with smelters and refineries, the environmental practices summarized in Tables S.1-S.4 are recommended.

Table S.1: Recommendations for Environmental Management Systems
NumberSubjectSummary of Recommendations: Environmental Management Systems
R 101Environmental Policy StatementEach company should develop and implement an environmental policy statement.
R 102Environmental Management SystemsEach facility should develop, implement, and maintain an environmental management system in accordance with ISO 140011 or an equivalent standard or system.
R 103Environmental Management Plans

Each facility should develop and implement a site-specific environmental management plan, consistent with the Environmental Management Plan Guidance Document for the Base Metals Smelting Sector.2 The plan should include, as a minimum, the following:

  1. company and site information;
  2. environmental policy statement;
  3. environmental performance requirements;
  4. air quality management systems;
  5. water quality management systems;
  6. solids management systems;
  7. land management systems;
  8. pollution prevention planning;
  9. emissions reduction options, targets, and schedules;
  10. environmental management systems and auditing;
  11. community relationships;
  12. communication procedures; and
  13. periodic environmental management plan review for effectiveness and continual improvement.
R 104Environmental AssessmentEnvironmental assessment principles should be followed by companies for new and significantly modified or expanded facilities, consistent with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Reference Guide,3 Table 1.
R 105Pollution Prevention PlanningEach facility should develop and implement a pollution prevention plan, consistent with Environment Canada's Pollution Prevention Planning Handbook4or in compliance with any Pollution Prevention Plan Notification issued under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
R 106Emergency PlanningEach facility should develop and make publicly available an environmental emergency plan, consistent with Environment Canada's Implementation Guidelines for Part 8 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 - Environmental Emergency Plans.5
R 107Decommissioning PlanningA facility should begin planning for decommissioning in the design stage of the project life cycle for new facilities and as early as possible in the operating stage for existing facilities. Site closures and associated decommissioning activities should be undertaken by the facility, consistent with the National Guidelines for Decommissioning Industrial Sites.6
R 108Environmental TrainingEach facility should establish and maintain procedures to identify its environmental training needs and ensure that all personnel who work in areas that may create a significant adverse impact upon the environment have received training.
R 109Environmental Facility InspectionEach facility should develop and implement an environmental inspection plan.
R 110Environmental AuditingEach facility should conduct periodic environmental audits by internal, corporate, or third-party auditors.
R 111Environmental Performance IndicatorsEach facility should develop a set of environmental performance indicators that can provide an overall measure of the facility's environmental performance.
R 112Product StewardshipEach company should develop and implement a product stewardship program aimed at minimizing the environmental impacts associated with the products used and produced by the facility and under the control of the company.
R 113Public ReportingDocumented procedures for the monitoring and reporting of environmental performance to the public should be developed and implemented by the facility, consistent with the Guidance Document for Reporting Releases from the Base Metals Smelting Sector7 and taking into account the Global Reporting Initiative's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines8 for the mining and metals sector.
R 114Community Advisory PanelEach facility should establish a Community Advisory Panel with representatives from the surrounding community, in order to provide a forum for the review and discussion of facility operations and associated environmental and other concerns.


Table S.2: Recommendations for Atmospheric Releases Management
NumberSubjectSummary of Recommendations: Atmospheric Releases Management
R 201Prevention and Control of Fugitive Air EmissionsEach facility should identify potential sources of fugitive emissions and should prevent or control those emissions through the use of appropriate mitigative measures. These sources may include unpaved roads, storage piles, material conveyance systems, waste disposal piles, and leaks from processes and buildings.
R 202Collection and Control of Process Air EmissionsEach facility should ensure that air pollution control equipment is adequately sized, designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to contain and control pollutant releases to ambient air from all plant processes.
R 203Total Particulate Matter Emissions GuidelinesEach facility should be designed and operated to achieve the following recommended release concentrations for total particulate matter after the emission control device of less than 50 mg/Nm3.
R 204Sulphur Fixation Guidelines
  1. Each facility should consider use of low sulphur feed and recycled materials to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide.
  2. Each existing facility should be designed and operated to achieve a minimum sulphur fixation rate of 90% by a committed timetable.
  3. Each new copper, lead and zinc smelter should be designed and operated to achieve a minimum sulphur fixation rate of 99%.
  4. Each new nickel smelter should be designed and operated to achieve a minimum sulphur fixation rate of 96%.
R 205Mercury Emissions Guidelines9
  1. Each existing facility should be designed and operated to limit air release loadings to less than 2 grams of mercury per tonne of finished product.
  2. Each new or expanded facility should be designed and operated to limit air release loadings in accordance with the following:
    1. less than 0.2 grams of mercury per tonne production of finished zinc, nickel, and lead; and
    2. less than 1 gram of mercury per tonne production of finished copper.
R 206Dioxins and Furans Emissions Guidelines10
  1. Each existing facility should be designed and operated to limit release concentrations of dioxins and furans to less than 100 pg ITEQ*/Rm3.
  2. Each new facility should be designed and operated to limit release concentrations of dioxins and furans to less than 32 pg ITEQ*/Rm3.

* ITEQ = International Toxicity Equivalency Quotient.

R 207Metals Emissions Limit TargetsEach facility should develop facility emission reduction targets for and timetables to achieve reductions in releases of arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, mercury, and other metals of concern, taking into account facility emission reduction targets for sulphur dioxide and particulate matter, pollution prevention and control options, and performances for various feeds, smelting processes, and emission control systems.
R 208Air Releases ReportingEach facility should measure or estimate and report releases, consistent with the Guidance Document for Reporting Releases from the Base Metals Smelting Sector11 and in accordance with the notice requiring submission of data for the National Pollutant Release Inventory.12
R 209Ambient Air Quality Objectives

In addition to the source performance recommendations of R 203 and R 204, each facility should design and operate air emission prevention and control systems, taking into account local conditions and the following ambient air quality objectives, standards, criteria and guidelines:

Pollutant Averaging timeNotes
1 hour8 hours24 hoursAnnual
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) (µg/m3)Desirable450 150301
Acceptable900 300601
Tolerable  800 1
WHO Guideline (SO2) (µg/m3)   125506
Total suspended particulate (TSP) (µg/m3)Desirable- -601
Acceptable- 120701
Tolerable -- 400-1
Particulate matter (PM2.5) (µg/m3)Reference level*  15 2
Ozone (O3) (ppb)  65  2
Metals (µg/m3)
- Arsenic   0.3 3
- Cadmium   2 4
- Lead   2 4
- Nickel 5.0   5

Notes:

  • 1. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian Environmental Quality Objectives, Canadian National Ambient Air Quality Objectives: Appendix 1, 1999.
  • 2. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone, June 5-6, 2000.
  • 3. Ontario Ministry of the Environment's Ambient Air Quality Criteria for Arsenic and Its Compounds.
  • 4. Ontario Regulation 337.
  • 5. Ontario Regulation 346 Point of Impingement (POI) 30-minute average.
  • 6. World Health Organization, Air Quality Guidelines.
  • * Reference level is the level above which there are demonstrated effects on human health and/or the environment.
R 210Ambient Air Quality Monitoring

Each facility should develop and implement an ambient air quality monitoring program in consultation with the regulatory bodies having authority over the facility. This program should include the sampling and analysis of metals, particulate matter (total, PM10, and PM2.5), sulphur dioxide, and other pollutants of concern, taking into account:

  1. the location of release sources under the control of the facility operator and other sources affecting air quality; and
  2. local meteorological conditions and probable maximum pollutant deposition areas.


Table S.3: Recommendations for Water and Wastewater Management
NumberSubjectSummary of Recommendations: Water and Wastewater Management
R 301Water Use/ReuseWater use should be minimized, to the maximum extent practicable, possibly through the recycling or reuse of water and the cascading of cooling water and wastewater between production processes using lower-quality water.
R 302Wastewater CollectionAll wastewater streams that may exceed the effluent criteria of R 304 should be directed to a treatment facility prior to discharge to the environment.
R 303Wastewater Containment Sizing

Wastewater collection and containment systems should be designed to contain the maximum volume of liquid that could reasonably be expected to be in storage for the following conditions:

  1. the maximum volume of wastewater that would be accumulated during the time required to shut down wastewater generating processes, plus 50%;
  2. 110% of the volume that could enter the containment system in the event of a leak, spill, or other like incident; or
  3. the accumulated precipitation from a 24-hour, 50-year storm (return period) for outdoor containments.
R 304Water Effluent Guidelines

Wastewater treatment facilities should be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to achieve the following effluent quality prior to release:

On a continuous basis:

pH
6.0-9.5

Maximum monthly mean concentration:

Total suspended solids
15.0 mg/L
Arsenic
0.5 mg/L
Copper
0.3 mg/L
Cyanide*
1.0 mg/L
Lead
0.2 mg/L
Nickel
0.5 mg/L
Zinc
0.5 mg/L



* If cyanide is used in the process.

Non-acutely lethal effluent:
No more than 50% mortality of Daphnia magna and rainbow trout test species in 100% effluent when tested in accordance with Environment Canada Reference Methods 1/RM/1313 and 1/RM/14.14

R 305Water Effluent ReportingEffluents should be monitored, tested, estimated and reported, consistent with Environment Canada's Guidance Document for the Sampling and Analysis of Metal Mining Effluents15 and Guidance Document for Flow Measurement of Metal Mining Effluents16 and in accordance with the notice requiring submission of data for the National Pollutant Release Inventory.17
R 306Ambient Water Quality Guidelines

In addition to the source performance recommendations of R 304 and R 305, each facility should design and operate effluent discharge systems, taking into account local conditions and the following ambient water quality objectives:

Substance
Guideline* (µg/L)
Aluminum
5-100
Ammonia (total)**
(see table in Section 4.3.6 of the Code)
Ammonia (un-ionized)***
19
Arsenic (total)
5.0
Benzene
370
Cadmium
0.017
Chromium
Trivalent chromium (Cr(III))
8.9
Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI))
1.0
Copper (total)
2-4
Cyanide (free)
5
Iron (total)
300
Lead (total)
1-7
Mercury
Inorganic mercury
0.026
Methylmercury
0.004
Molybdenum
73
Nickel (total)
25-150
pH
6.5-9.0****
Selenium (total)
1.0
Silver (total)
0.1
Thallium
0.8
Zinc
30



Notes:

  • * Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Freshwater Aquatic Life (Summary Table update December 2003).
  • ** Ammonia (total) is used to describe the sum of ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4+).
  • *** Ionized ammonia refers to the ammonium ion (NH4+).
  • **** No units for pH.
R 307Aquatic Environmental Effects MonitoringEach facility that discharges to a receiving water, should develop and implement an aquatic environmental effects monitoring program, consistent with Environment Canada's Metal Mining Guidance Document for Aquatic Environmental Effects Monitoring.18


Table S.4: Recommendations for Waste Management
NumberSubjectSummary of Recommendations: Waste Management
R 401Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling

Each facility should develop, implement, and maintain a waste reduction, reuse, and recycling program. The program should be one that:

  1. identifies opportunities for in-plant reduction, reuse, and recycling of wastes;
  2. develops and implements plans for the evaluation and implementation of reduction, reuse, and recycling opportunities;
  3. identifies and evaluates market opportunities for wastes with a view to maximizing waste material reduction, reuse, and recycling (this includes the sale of by-products that would otherwise be considered wastes); and
  4. develops and implements a research and development program for reducing, reusing, and recycling residual wastes.
R 402Location and Construction of Waste Disposal Sites

Expansions to existing waste disposal sites and the design and construction of new sites should be undertaken so as to ensure that:

  1. the site plan is updated to clearly show the location and dimensions of the new or expanded waste disposal site;
  2. the perimeter of the disposal area is far enough away from all watercourses to prevent contamination by runoff, seepage, or fugitive emissions;
  3. the surface drainage from off-site areas is diverted around the disposal area;
  4. the expanded area is hidden from view by fences, berms, or buffer zones; and
  5. future beneficial uses of the waste disposal site after its closure have been considered.
R 403Development of Solid Waste Disposal Sites

Solid waste disposal sites should be developed in accordance with the following practices:

  1. the disposal area should be developed in modules or cells;
  2. all wastes should be placed such that they have physical and chemical stability suitable for land reuse, if the disposal area is reclaimed;
  3. contouring, capping, and reclamation of cells should be undertaken throughout the operating life of the site; and
  4. all disposal sites should be reclaimed for beneficial uses before final closure or restricted from public access if they cannot be reclaimed.
R 404Management of Waste Disposal Sites

All waste disposal sites should be managed in accordance with documented, site-specific waste management plans approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies having authority over the facility so that:

  1. solid, liquid, and hazardous wastes are transferred only to facilities specifically designed, approved, and operated for that purpose;
  2. access to the site is controlled and disposal activities are supervised by trained personnel; and
  3. records are maintained of the types, approximate quantities, and point of origin of the wastes.
R 405Monitoring of Waste Disposal Sites

A groundwater monitoring program should be developed for all waste disposal sites in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. a permanent system of appropriately located piezometers and wells should be provided;
  2. a program of pre-operational monitoring of groundwater regimes should be initiated;
  3. groundwater samples should be collected at least quarterly; and
  4. each groundwater sample should be analyzed for pH, total dissolved solids, and other appropriate site-specific parameters.
R 406Waste ReportingWastes disposed of and transferred should be reported, in accordance with the notice requiring submission of data for the National Pollutant Release Inventory.19
R 407Waste ManagementWastes should be managed consistent with the Guidance Document for Management of Wastes from the Base Metals Smelting Sector.20

  • 1 Canadian Standards Association, Environmental Management Systems - Specification with Guidance for Use, CAN/CSA-ISO 14001-96, 1996.
  • 2 Hatch Associates Ltd., Environmental Management Plan Guidance Document for the Base Metals Smelting Sector, prepared for Environment Canada, March 14, 2001.
  • 3 Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Reference Guide: Determining Whether a Project is Likely to Cause Significant Adverse Environmental Effects.
  • 4 Environment Canada, Pollution Prevention Planning Handbook, 2001.
  • 5 Environment Canada, Implementation Guidelines for Part 8 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, Environmental Emergency Plans, September 2003, ISBN 0-662-33797-2.
  • 6 Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, National Guidelines for Decommissioning Industrial Sites, Report No. CCME-TS/WM-TRE013E, March 1991, ISBN 0-662-18705-9.
  • 7 Hatch Associates Ltd., Guidance Document for Reporting Releases from the Base Metals Smelting Sector,prepared for Environment Canada, October 2001.
  • 8 Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, 2002, GRI Mining and Metals Sector Supplement, Pilot Version 1.0, February 2005.
  • 9 In accordance with the Canada-wide Standards for Mercury (see Appendix A of the Code).
  • 10 Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canada-wide Standards for Dioxins/Furans, March 2003, developed for other sources such as steel manufacturing electric arc furnaces.
  • 11 Hatch Associates Ltd., Guidance Document for Reporting Releases from the Base Metals Smelting Sector,prepared for Environment Canada, October 2001.
  • 12 Environment Canada, National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  • 13 Environment Canada, Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Rainbow Trout, Report EPS 1/RM/13, Second Edition, December 2000.
  • 14 Environment Canada, Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Daphnia magna, Report EPS 1/RM/14, Second Edition, December 2000.
  • 15 Environment Canada, Guidance Document for the Sampling and Analysis of Metal Mining Effluents, EPS 2/MM/5, April 2001.
  • 16 Environment Canada, Guidance Document for Flow Measurement of Metal Mining Effluents, EPS 2/MM/4, April 2001.
  • 17 Environment Canada, National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  • 18 Environment Canada, Metal Mining Guidance Document for Aquatic Environmental Effects Monitoring, 2002.
  • 19 Environment Canada, National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  • 20 Hatch Consulting, Guidance Document for Management of Wastes from the Base Metals Smelting Sector,prepared for Environment Canada, March 31, 2004.