2014 Metal Mining Effluent Regulations status report

Status report on the performance of metal mines subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations in 2014

Full report available in PDF on the Government of Canada Publications website

Executive summary

This status report presents a summary of the performance of Canadian metal mines in 2014 with respect to the prescribed limits and requirements of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations. This is the 12th annual report since the publication of the Regulations. The report provides information on mining facilities subject to the Regulations, effluent data, compliance performance and water bodies designated as tailing impoundment areas.

The Metal Mining Effluent Regulations came into force in 2002 pursuant to the Fisheries Act to regulate the deposit of mine effluent and mine waste into waters frequented by fish. The Regulations set out limits for certain deleterious substances, prohibit the discharge of effluent that is acutely lethal to rainbow trout, and specify the requirements for carrying out effluent sampling, reporting and environmental effects monitoring.

In 2014, 125 metal mining facilities in Canada were subject to the Regulations. These facilities are located in all provinces and territories except Alberta and Prince Edward Island. Most facilities were located in Ontario and Quebec, which have 40 and 32 facilities respectively.

It was determined that 44 mining facilities subject to the Regulations (35%) provided incomplete effluent monitoring information, including 6 mining facilities that did not provide any effluent monitoring reports in 2014. Of the remaining 38 facilities, the vast majority of reporting issues were attributed to one or more missing toxicity and radium-226 test results. The compliance statistics presented in this report were compiled on the basis of the information provided in the annual report submissions and do not include unreported data.

Overall, 99.5% of data reported in 2014 were in compliance with the prescribed monthly mean limits for metals, cyanide and total suspended solids (TSS), and the pH limits, the same as in 2013. Most of the exceedances reported in 2014 were for TSS (48%), pH (18%) and nickel (12%). All of the deleterious substances had a compliance rate of at least 99%, except for TSS, which had a compliance rate of 97.6%. Of the exceedances reported, most were from facilities in the base metals mining subsector.

Overall, 99.0% of test data reported in 2014 showed mining facilities to be in compliance with the requirement that effluent not be acutely lethal to rainbow trout. This is an improvement from the 2013 compliance rate of 96.8%. Additionally, 96.5% of Daphnia magna monitoring test results reported in 2014 showed a mortality rate of less than 50%, which is also an improvement from the 2013 rate of 93.6%.

Schedule 2 of the Regulations lists water bodies designated as tailings impoundment areas. In 2014, no new water bodies were added to the 19 water bodies already listed on Schedule 2 of the Regulations. These water bodies are associated with the activities of 12 mining facilities.

The electronic version of this status report is available through the Government of Canada Publications website.

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