Skip booklet index and go to page content

Summary Review of Performance of Metal Mines Subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations in 2013

7. Performance Data and Compliance Summary for 2013

The data were compiled by the Mining Section of Environment Canada. Except where noted, data are generally presented as provided by the owners or operators of the mines in their submitted annual reports. Occasionally, quarterly reports were used to correct or complete missing information that had not been properly reported by the owner or operator of a mine. For these facilities, a comment was added in the appropriate summary tables presented in Appendix E to identify which missing information had not been submitted as part of the annual report.

Pursuant to sections 9 and 10 of the Regulations, 216 final discharge points were identified as being subject to the Regulations. The distribution of facilities and final discharge points per jurisdiction is shown in Table 1. The number of final discharge points per facility ranged from 1 to 11, as illustrated in Table 2. Reported data indicate that 84 final discharge points had continuous discharge, 78 had intermittent discharge and 54 did not have any discharge in 2013.

The tables presented in Appendix Dsummarize the effluent quality data for mines subject to the Regulations in 2013. Table D1summarizes the distribution of the non-compliant parameters for metals and pH, whereas Table D2summarizes the results of rainbow trout acute lethality tests and Daphnia magna monitoring tests. Data for each individual final discharge point for mines subject to the Regulations in 2013 are listed in Appendix E.

Overall, the metal mining sector achieved over 99% compliance with the prescribed limits for metals, cyanide and pH. Only a few sporadic exceedances were reported for arsenic, copper, cyanide, nickel, zinc and radium 226. Metal mines achieved 100% compliance for prescribed limits for lead. Five mines were challenged to routinely meet total suspended solids limits, and the overall compliance rate was 97.9% (Table 3).

With respect to rainbow trout acute lethality tests, the metal mining sector has achieved a non-acutely lethal effluent compliance rate of 96.8%. In 93.6% of Daphnia magna monitoring tests, the mortality rate was less than 50%.

In 2013, 57 exceedances of the prescribed limits for metals, cyanide, pH and total suspended solids were reported (Table 4). Total suspended solids exceedances accounted for 53% of the total, metals for 23% of the total and pH for 7.0% of the total. Ninety seven facilities complied with the maximum authorized monthly mean concentrations for metals and total suspended solids, and pH limits at all times. Twenty four facilities reported at least one exceedance in 2013. Figure 2 shows the distribution, by jurisdiction, of all the facilities subject to the Regulations in 2013, as well as the number of facilities for which exceedances were reported. The distribution of exceedances by jurisdiction is shown in Figure 3.

The distribution of exceedances that were reported in 2013 per jurisdiction is as follows:

  • 33.3% occurred from facilities located in Ontario;
  • 33.3% occurred from facilities located in Quebec;
  • 16.7% occurred from facilities located in Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • 12.5% occurred from facilities located in British Columbia; and
  • 4.2% occurred from facilities located in Manitoba.

No exceedances were reported from mines located in Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick (Table 5).

The distribution of exceedances by mining subsector is presented in Table 6. The precious metals subsector accounted for 38.6%, the base metals subsector for 35.1%, and the iron ore and titanium subsector for 26.4%. The uranium and other metals subsectors did not have any exceedances for 2013.

In 2013, 33 tests from 11 facilities were reported to be acutely lethal to rainbow trout (Table 7A). Of those, 81.8% were from facilities located in Quebec, 6.1% in Ontario and New Brunswick and 3.0% in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba. None of the effluent tested in the other jurisdictions (British Columbia, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Nova Scotia) was acutely lethal to rainbow trout. On a sectoral basis, 87.9% of the reports of acute lethality test failures were from the precious metals subsector, 9.1% from the base metals subsector and 3.0% from the other metals subsector. The uranium and iron ore and titanium subsectors each had no rainbow trout acute lethality test failures (Table 8A).

In 2013, 66 tests from 21 facilities had a Daphnia magna mortality rate greater than 50% (Table 7B). Quebec had the highest percentage (36.4%) of the tests in which Daphnia magna mortality was greater than 50%, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (24.2%), Manitoba (18.2%), Ontario (13.6%), and Saskatchewan (4.55%). Northwest Territories and New Brunswick accounted for 1.52% of the tests in which Daphnia magna mortality rate greater than 50%. British Columbia, Yukon, Nunavut and Nova Scotia had no Daphnia magna mortality rate greater than 50%. On a sectoral basis, 50% of the reports of Daphnia magna mortality greater than 50% were from the base metals subsector, 39.4% were from the precious metals subsector, 4.55% were from each of the iron ore and titanium and uranium subsectors, and 1.5% were from the other metals subsector (Table 8B).

The MMER regulate the deposit of mine effluent, waste rock, tailings, low-grade ore and overburden into natural waters frequented by fish. Schedule 2 of the MMER lists water bodies designated as tailings impoundment areas (TIAs). These TIAs are water bodies into which any deleterious substance (such as tailings, waste rock etc.) may be disposed. Water bodies are added to Schedule 2 via regulatory amendment of the MMER. Information on the process for adding a water body to Schedule 2 via an amendment to the MMER is available online.

As of December 2013, 19 water bodies were listed on Schedule 2 of the MMER. These water bodies are associated with the activities of 12 metal mines. Figure 4 illustrates the locations of metal mines where water bodies have been designated as Tailings Impoundment Areas and are listed as such on Schedule 2 of the Regulations as of December 2013. More information on the waters listed on Schedule 2 and the mines associated with them is shown in Table 9.

These Regulations are enforced by Environment Canada in accordance with the provisions of the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act. Enforcement personnel administer the provisions and accompanying regulations with an emphasis on preventing harm to fish, fish habitat or human use of fish caused by physical alteration or pollution of waters frequented by fish.

In verifying compliance with these Regulations, inspectors abide by the Enforcement and Compliance Policy, which sets out a range of possible responses to offenses, including warnings, inspector’s directions, ticketing, ministerial orders, injunctions, prosecution and civil suits by the Crown for the recovery of costs. If an inspector confirms that an infraction has been committed, the inspector will select the appropriate response based on the following criteria: nature of the offense, effectiveness in achieving the desired result with the offender and consistency.

Figure 1: Location of All Mining Facilities Subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations in 2013.

Figure 1: Location of all mining facilities subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations in 2013

Note: The numbers used to identify the mines in Figure 1 correspond to column 1 of the table presented in Appendix B.

Long Description

Figure 1 shows the location of the hundred and twenty one facilities that were subject to the Metal Mining Effleunt Regulations in 2013. Each facility is identified by a number and a specific symbol. The names of the facilities and their associated numbers are listed in the table in Appendix B. The symbol associated to each facility represents the mining subsector to which the facility is associated. The legend defines the symbols associated to each mining subsector and include the base metals, the precious metals, the iron ore and titanium, the uranium and the other metals subsectors.

Table 1: Distribution of Facilities and Final Discharge Points by Jurisdiction in 2013
JurisdictionNumber of FacilitiesNumber of Final Discharge Points
British Columbia829
Yukon33
Saskatchewan918
Manitoba1011
Northwest Territories35
Nunavut24
Ontario4063
Quebec3251
New Brunswick33
Newfoundland and Labrador1028
Nova Scotia11
Total121216
Table 2: Distribution of Final Discharge Points per Facility in 2013
Number of Final Discharge PointsNumber of Facilities
182
216
310
44
54
63
71
111
Table 3 : Compliance Summary for Prescribed Deleterious Substances and pH in 2013
 AsCuCNPbNiZnTSSRa-226pH LowpH High
Number of exceedances34303330731
Total number of months for which results were reported13641377425136413651376145683714631463
Compliance rate (%)99.899.799.310099.899.897.999.299.899.9
Table 4 : Performance Summary in 2013 - Exceedances of Limits Prescribed in Schedule 4
Substance/ParameterNumber of ExceedancesNumber of Facilities
Arsenic31
Copper43
Cyanide33
Lead--
Nickel32
Zinc33
TSS3012
Radium 22672
pH43
Total5729

Figure 2: Distribution of Facilities by Jurisdiction for which Exceedances Were Reported in 2013

Figure 2: Distribution of Facilities by Jurisdiction for which Exceedances Were Reported in 2013

Long Description

Figure 2 shows the total number of facilities that were subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations by jurisdiction as well as the number of facilities for which exceedances were reported in 2013. For each jurisdiction, the figure shows the total number of facilities subject to the regulations as per Table 1 and the number of facilities for which exceedances were reported as per Table 5.

Figure 3: Distribution of Exceedances by Jurisdiction in 2013

Figure 3: Distribution of Exceedances by Jurisdiction in 2013

Long Description

Figure 3 shows the distribution of exceedances by jurisdiction for 2013 as per in Table 5.

Table 5: Distribution of Exceedances by Jurisdiction in 2013
JurisdictionAsCuCNPbNiZnTSSRa-226pHTotalNumber of Facilities
British Columbia------16183
Yukon-----------
Saskatchewan-----------
Manitoba-------1-11
Northwest Territories-----------
Nunavut-----------
Ontario331-116-3188
Quebec-11-2-11--158
New Brunswick-----------
Newfoundland and Labrador--1--212--154
Nova Scotia-----------
Total343-3330745724
Table 6: Distribution of Exceedances by Mining Subsector in 2013
SubsectorAsCuCNPbNiZnTSSRa-226pHTotalNumber of Facilities
Base metals-1--31173169
Precious metals333--111-12210
Uranium-----------
Iron/titanium-----118--195
Other metals-----------
Total343-3330745724
Table 7A: Performance Summary: Rainbow Trout Acute Lethality, by Jurisdiction in 2013
JurisdictionTotal Number of Rainbow Trout Acute Lethality Tests ConductedTotal Number of Tests with
>50% Mortality
Total Number of Facilities with
>50% Mortality
British Columbia89--
Yukon15--
Saskatchewan53--
Manitoba5111
Northwest Territories12--
Nunavut6--
Ontario27722
Quebec346276
New Brunswick2721
Newfoundland and Labrador14411
Nova Scotia4--
Total10243311
Table 7B: Performance Summary: Daphnia magnaMonitoring Tests, by Jurisdiction in 2013
JurisdictionTotal Number of Daphnia MagnaMonitoring Tests ConductedTotal Number of Tests
with >50% Mortality
Total Number of Facilities
with >50% Mortality
British Columbia89--
Yukon15--
Saskatchewan5432
Manitoba51123
Northwest Territories1311
Nunavut6--
Ontario28894
Quebec341246
New Brunswick2711
Newfoundland and Labrador142164
Nova Scotia4--
Total10306621
Table 8A: Performance Summary: Rainbow Trout Acute Lethality Monitoring Tests, by Mining Subsector in 2013
SubsectorTotal Number of Rainbow Trout Acute Lethality Tests ConductedTotal Number of Tests
with >50% Mortality
Total Number of Facilities
with >50% Mortality
Base metals31132
Precious metals475298
Uranium34--
Iron/titanium171--
Other metals3311
Total10243311
Table 8B: Performance Summary: Daphnia magnaMonitoring Tests, by Mining Subsector in 2013
SubsectorTotal Number of Daphnia Magna Monitoring Tests ConductedTotal Number of Tests
with >50% Mortality
Total Number of Facilities
with >50% Mortality
Base metals309339
Precious metals479267
Uranium3532
Iron/titanium17132
Other metals3611
Total10306621

Figure 4: Water Bodies Listed on Schedule 2 of the MMER (as of December 2013)

Figure 4 : Water Bodies Listed on Schedule 2 of the MMER (as of December 2013)

Long Description

Figure 4 is a map illustrating the locations of the 12 metal mines where water bodies have been designated as Tailings Impoundment Areas on Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations; the 19 water bodies in question were listed as such as of December 2013. Each location with a water body (or water bodies) listed on Schedule 2 is identified with a symbol and either a number or a letter. The information relating to the water bodies on Schedule 2 as well as information on the mining facilities with which they are associated is listed in Table 9.

Table 9 : Water Bodies Listed on Schedule 2 of the MMER (as of December 2013)
Map #Footnote aMine NameProv. / Terr.Item #Footnote bWater Body NameFootnoteb
4Kemess South MineBC3South Kemess Creek
18Jolu Mine and MillSK19Mallard Lake
24Snow Lake MillMB1Anderson Lake
35Meadowbank MineNU8The northwest arm of Second Portage Lake
110Wabush (Scully Mine)NL11Flora Lake
110Wabush (Scully Mine)NL12A portion of an unnamed tributary stream to Flora Lake
110Wabush (Scully Mine)NL13A portion of an unnamed tributary stream to Flora Lake
110Wabush (Scully Mine)NL14A portion of an unnamed tributary stream to Flora Lake
111Iron Ore Company of Canada – Carol ProjectNL10A portion of Wabush Lake
115Duck Pond MineNL6Trout Pond
115Duck Pond MineNL7The headwater pond of a tributary to Gill’s Pond Brook
aEskay Creek MineBC4Albino Lake
aEskay Creek MineBC5Tom MacKay Lake
bMt. Milligan MineBC16A portion of King Richard Creek
bMt. Milligan MineBC17A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake
bMt. Milligan MineBC18A portion of an unnamed tributary to Alpine Lake
cPolaris MineNU2Garrow Lake
dDoris ProjectNU9Tail Lake
eVale Hydrometallurgical FacilityNL15Sandy Pond


Date modified: