Skip booklet index and go to page content

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

Readers’ Comments

PDF version - 3.9 MB

Comments and inquiries about the content of this summary review should be addressed to:

Mining Section
Mining and Processing Division
Industrial Sectors Directorate
Environmental Stewardship Branch
Environment Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0H3

Review Notice

This performance summary of metal mines subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations has been reviewed by officials of the Mining Section, Environment Canada, and approved for public release. Approval does not necessarily signify that the contents reflect the views and policies of Environment Canada.

The data used in this summary review were provided to Environment Canada under section 22 of the Regulations, which requires mines to submit annual reports to Environment Canada. The data were compiled by staff of the Mining Section of Environment Canada and are presented as provided by the mines from their submitted annual reports. In some cases, quarterly reports were used by Environment Canada staff to complete missing information that was not properly reported by the owners or operators of some mines.

This summary has been compiled to inform the regulated community, other stakeholders and the interested public on the performance of mines subject to the Regulations in 2013. The material has been prepared for informational purposes only. For all purposes of interpreting and applying the law, users should consult the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, as registered by the Clerk of the Privy Council and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.

 

Return to Table of Contents

2. Abstract

This review summarizes the performance of Canadian metal mines with respect to selected standards prescribed by the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, which were registered on June 6, 2002, and came fully into force on December 6, 2002.

This is the eleventh annual summary of performance with respect to the Regulations. In addition to detailed mine effluent quality data, the report includes various tables and graphs synthesizing the compliance data based on exceedances, jurisdictions and mining subsectors. Summary tables are also provided on the same basis for both rainbow trout acute lethality and Daphnia magna monitoring tests. This performance review of mines is limited in that it does not include an overview of the main requirements of the Regulations. The electronic version of this summary review is available through Environment Canada’s online publications catalogue.

Return to Table of Contents

3. Summary

This review summarizes the performance of Canadian metal mines with respect to the selected standards prescribed by the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, which came fully into force on December 6, 2002.

The Regulations require sampling of effluent and the submission of quarterly and annual reports of results within specified time limits. The data used in this review were provided to Environment Canada under section 22 of the Regulations, which requires mines to submit annual reports to Environment Canada. The format for these reports is specified in Schedule 6 of the Regulations. The reports include:

  • monthly mean concentrations for metals and total suspended solids;
  • monthly pH range; and
  • summary results of rainbow trout acute lethality tests and Daphnia magna monitoring tests.

In 2013, 121 mining facilities operating in Canada were subject to the Regulations. No metal mines were subject to the Regulations in Alberta or Prince Edward Island. General information on those facilities subject to the Regulations is provided in Appendix B, and their locations are illustrated on the map in Figure 1.

Return to Table of Contents

4. Overall Compliance Assessment for Prescribed Deleterious Substances and pH in 2013

  • Overall, the metal mining sector is achieving over 99% compliance with the prescribed limits for arsenic, copper, cyanide, nickel, zinc, radium 226 and pH, and a 100% compliance rate for lead.
  • Only a few sporadic exceedances were reported for arsenic, copper, cyanide, nickel, zinc, radium 226 and pH.
  • The Eagle River Mill exceeded the limits for several parameters: copper, cyanide, zinc and total suspended solids.
  • In 2013, the overall compliance rate achieved by the metal mining sector with respect to meeting the total suspended solids limits was 97.9%. The Elross Lake Area Iron Ore Mine, the Complexe métallurgique Sorel-Tracy, the Vezza Mine, the Wabush Mines Joint Venture – Scully Mine and the Williams Mine failed to consistently meet total suspended solids limits.

Return to Table of Contents

5. Overall Assessment of Results of Rainbow Trout Acute Lethality and Daphnia magna Monitoring Tests in 2013

  • Overall, the metal mining sector has achieved a compliance rate of 96.8% with respect to effluent that is non-acutely lethal to rainbow trout. A low compliance rate was achieved by the Vezza Mine facility in Quebec.
  • In 93.6% of the Daphnia magna monitoring tests, the mortality rate was less than the targeted level of 50%.

Return to Table of Contents

6. Comparison of Performance of Metal Mines in 2012 and 2013

  • In 2013, 121 mines were subject to the Regulations compared to 117 in 2012. Four new mines became subject to the Regulations (see Appendix A for a list of mines with new regulatory status in 2013).
  • In 2013, 216 final discharge points were subject to the Regulations, compared with 206 in 2012.
  • The total number of exceedances for metals, pH and total suspended solids decreased from 74 in 2012 to 57 in 2013.
  • In 2013 (as in 2012), metal mines achieved a 100% compliance rate for lead. The compliance rate for copper dropped slightly from 99.8% in 2012 to 99.7% in 2013. The compliance rate for cyanide increased from 98.6% in 2012 to 99.3% in 2013. The compliance rate for nickel and zinc both increased slightly to 99.8% from 99.6% and 99.7%, respectively. The compliance rate for arsenic remained unchanged at 99.8%.
  • The compliance rate for total suspended solids (TSS) increased from 96.3% in 2012 to 97.9% in 2013. Although the majority of TSS exceedances reported were sporadic, five facilities seemed to have chronic TSS exceedances from at least one of their effluents in 2013; these facilities were the Williams Mine in Ontario, the Vezza Mine and the Complexe métallurgique Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, and the Elross Lake Area Iron Ore Mine and the Wabush Mines Joint Venture - Scully Mine in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • In 2013, the compliance rate for non-acutely lethal effluents to rainbow trout was 96.8%, compared with 98.8% in 2012. This drop in compliance rate was partly due to an increased number of tests with mortality greater than 50% that were reported by the Vezza Mine facility in Quebec (17 in 2013 compared to 6 in 2012).
  • Between 2012 and 2013, a slight decrease in the percentage of tests with mortality ≤50% was observed in Daphnia magnamonitoring tests. More specifically, 93.6% of the tests showed the mortality rate was less than 50% in 2013 compared with 95.4% of the tests in 2012. In 2013, the numerous tests conducted by the Bucko Lake Mine, the Vezza Mine, the Éléonore Mine and the Ming Mine, for which the mortality rate was greater than 50%, contributed to decreasing the overall compliance rate of the sector.

Return to Table of Contents

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


Return to Table of Contents

8. References

Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2002. Metal Mining Effluent Regulations. Canada Gazette, Part II. June 19, 2002. Queen’s Printer for Canada.

Environment Canada. 2000. Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Rainbow Trout. Environmental Protection Series. 2nd ed., December 2000. Method Development and Applications Section, Environmental Technology Centre, Environment Canada, EPS 1/RM/13.

Environment Canada. 2000. Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining Acute Lethality of Effluents to Daphnia magna. Environmental Protection Series. 2nd ed., December 2000. Method Development and Applications Section, Environmental Technology Centre, Environment Canada, EPS 1/RM/14.

Environment Canada. 2001. Guidance Document for the Sampling and Analysis of Metal Mining Effluents. Minerals and Metals Division, Environmental Protection Service, Environment Canada, EPS 2/MM/5. April 2001.

Environment Canada. 2001. Guidance Document for Flow Measurement of Metal Mining Effluents. Minerals and Metals Division, Environmental Protection Service, Environment Canada, EPS 2/MM/4. April 2001.

Environment Canada. 2014. Summary Review of Performance of Metal Mines Subject to the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations in 2012. Mining and Processing Division, Environmental Stewardship Branch, 1/MM/22. January 2014.

Return to Table of Contents

9. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

As
arsenic
BC
British Columbia
Bq/L
becquerel(s) per litre
CN
cyanide
Cu
copper
DM
Daphnia magna
FDP
final discharge point
m3
cubic metre(s)
MB
Manitoba
mg/L
milligram(s) per litre
MMER
Metal Mining Effluent Regulations
NB
New Brunswick
ND
no deposit
Ni
nickel
NL
Newfoundland and Labrador
NMR
no measurement required
NS
Nova Scotia
NT
Northwest Territories
NU
Nunavut
ON
Ontario
Pb
lead
QC
Quebec
Ra-226
radium 226
RT
rainbow trout
SK
Saskatchewan
t/d
tonne(s) per day
t/y
tonne(s) per year
TSS
total suspended solids
U3O8
uranium oxide
YT
Yukon
Zn
zinc

Return to Table of Contents

10. List of Tables

Return to Table of Contents

11. List of Figures

Return to Table of Contents

12. List of Appendices

Return to Table of Contents

Date modified: