Metal Mining Technical Guidance for Environmental Effects Monitoring
10. Information Management and Interpretative Reports
- 10.2.1 Interpretative Report Content
- 10.2.2 Interpretative Report Structure
Environmental effects monitoring (EEM) reports shall be submitted electronically in the format provided by Environment Canada as per section 23 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER). Reports shall be submitted in writing to the Authorization Officer if an electronic format is not provided or is impracticable. The following sections of this chapter provide additional information on the reporting format of the different EEM reports.
The MMER state the required dates for data and report submissions, and Chapter 1 of this document provides an additional description of reporting requirements. Contact information for Authorization Officers and EEM Coordinators is available at www.ec.gc.ca/esee-eem/default.asp?lang=En&n=92476010-1.
10.1 Electronic Reporting
10.1.1 Effluent and Water Quality Monitoring
Environment Canada provides the Regulatory Information Submission System (RISS) for electronic reporting and submission of effluent and water quality monitoring studies (effluent characterization, sublethal toxicity testing and water quality monitoring). RISS is available on the Internet at the following webpage: https://www.riss-sitdr.ec.gc.ca/riss/Global/Index.aspx. For reporting requirements not supported by RISS, a hard copy should be submitted to Environment Canada. These requirements include the methodologies used to conduct effluent characterization and water quality monitoring as well as the quality assurance and quality control measures implemented and data related to the implementation of those measures.
The Effluent and Water Quality Monitoring Report must be submitted to the Authorization Officer no later than March 31 each year (MMER, Schedule 5, section [s.] 8). Information on the content of the Effluent and Water Quality Monitoring Report is discussed in Chapter 5.
10.1.2 Biological Monitoring
The data from biological monitoring studies must currently be submitted to Environment Canada using a standardized template in Excel format. One copy of the completed standardized template should be submitted to the National EEM Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, and an additional copy should be submitted to the appropriate EEM Regional Coordinator. Biological monitoring data from standard surveys, and the components of magnitude and extent studies or investigation of cause (IOC) studies that can be accommodated by the standardized template, must be submitted electronically. For example, if an adult fish survey is conducted as part of an IOC study, the data from the fish survey must be submitted electronically using the standardized template. The software previously available for inputting electronic EEM biological monitoring data (i.e., the EEM – Metal Mining Data Entry Software v. 2.1 for EEM biological monitoring) is being upgraded. Until the updated reporting software becomes available, the standardized Excel template, with data entry instructions, is available at http://www.ec.gc.ca/esee-eem/default.asp?lang=En&n=2EEF6671-1.
10.2 Interpretative Reports
Interpretative reports are submitted to the Authorization Officer. As some of the information provided in the interpretative reports is not supported in an electronic format provided by Environment Canada (e.g., maps) these reports should be submitted in hard copy.
The first interpretative report shall be submitted not later than 30 months after the date the mine becomes subject to the MMER, or not later than 42 months after the date the mine becomes subject to the MMER if historical information was submitted (MMER, Schedule 5, s. 18). Subsequent interpretative reports must be submitted 24, 36 or 72 months after the day on which the most recent interpretative report was required to be submitted, depending on the results of the previous studies (MMER, Schedule 5, s. 22). The final interpretative report shall be submitted to the Authorization Officer not later than 36 months after the day on which the notice to close the mine was provided (MMER, Schedule 5, s. 26). Further information on the reporting frequency is provided in Chapter 1.
10.2.1 Interpretative Report Content
The required content for interpretative reports depends on the type of biological monitoring study being conducted (MMER, Schedule 5, s. 17, 21 and 25). The reporting requirements for the varying types of biological monitoring studies are outlined below.
A mine could be conducting different types of studies on fish and benthic invertebrates at the same time (see Chapter 1 for further details). The interpretative report would then provide the information related to these different studies.
10.2.1.1 Interpretative Report for Standard Biological Monitoring Studies to Assess Effects
For standard biological monitoring studies that are conducted to assess effects, the interpretative report should contain the following information (MMER, Schedule 5, s. 17):
- a description of any deviation from the study design that occurred while the biological monitoring studies were being conducted, and of any impact that the deviation had on the studies;
- the latitude and longitude of the sampling areas in degrees, minutes and seconds, and a description of the sampling areas sufficient to identify their location;
- the dates and times when samples were collected;
- the sample sizes;
- the results of the data assessment and supporting raw data of the benthic invertebrate community study, including the mean, median, standard deviation (SD), standard error, and minimum and maximum values for:
- total benthic invertebrate density
- taxa richness
- evenness index (Simpson’s Evenness Index)
- similarity index (Bray-Curtis Index)
- if the benthic invertebrate community survey is conducted in an area where it is possible to sample sediment, the total organic carbon content of sediment and the particle size distribution of sediment;
- the results of the data assessment and supporting raw data of the fish population study, including the mean, median, SD, standard error, and minimum and maximum values, for indicators of growth, reproduction, condition and survival that include, where practicable, the length, total body weight and age of the fish, the weight of its liver or hepatopancreas and, if the fish are sexually mature, the egg weight, fecundity and gonad weight of the fish;
- the results of the data assessment and supporting raw data of the fish tissue analysis, including the mean, median, SD, standard error, and minimum and maximum values of the concentration of total mercury wet weight in the fish tissue;
- the identification of the sex of the fish and the presence of any lesions, tumours, parasites or other abnormalities;
- the results of the statistical analysis performed to determine if there is a statistical difference between the sampling areas, the probability of correctly detecting an effect of a predefined size and the degree of confidence that can be placed in the calculations;
- the identification of any effect on:
- the fish population
- fish tissue
- the benthic invertebrate community;
- a summary of the results of effluent characterization, sublethal toxicity testing and water quality monitoring;
- the conclusions of the biological monitoring studies, taking into account:
- the results of the statistical analysis conducted on the fish and benthic invertebrate survey data
- the probability of correctly detecting an effect of a pre-defined size (power analysis) and the degree of confidence that can be placed in the calculations
- the results of any previous biological monitoring studies
- the presence of anthropogenic, natural or other factors that are not related to the effluent under study and that may reasonably be expected to contribute to any observed effect
- a description of quality assurance or quality control (QA/QC) measures that were implemented and the data related to the implementation of those measures;
- a description of the impact of the results on the study design for subsequent biological monitoring studies; and
- the date of the next biological monitoring study.
10.2.1.2 Interpretative Reports for Magnitude and Geographic Extent and Investigation of Cause Studies
If the two most recent interpretative reports indicate a similar type of effect on the fish population, fish tissue or the benthic invertebrate community, the interpretative report should contain, in addition to the information mentioned in section 10.2.1.1, the magnitude and geographical extent of the effect on fish population, fish tissue or the benthic invertebrate community (MMER, Schedule 5, subsection [ss.] 21(1)). A similar type of effect is defined as a statistically significant difference in the same endpoint in the same direction in two consecutive studies.
An interpretative report submitted when the mine conducts an IOC study may not necessarily contain all of the same information as the interpretative reports for standard biological monitoring (described in section 10.2.1.1) or the magnitude and geographic extent studies. The IOC interpretative report contains the cause of the effect on fish populations, fish tissue or the benthic invertebrate community and, if the cause was not determined, an explanation as to why it was not determined and a description of any steps that need to be taken in the next study to determine that cause (MMER, Schedule 5, ss. 21(2)).
10.2.2 Interpretative Report Structure
This section outlines the information that is recommended for inclusion in an interpretative report. The information in this section is generic to all biological monitoring study types and can be provided for each study. The information can be reported under the following categories:
Site Description and Mine Update: A synopsis and update of the information provided in the study design, especially with regards to mine history and operations, and ecological aspects of the study area. It is also important to indicate any changes or deviations from the initial study design. Information recommended for this section falls under the following three categories (other information may be provided on a site-specific basis):
Synopsis of mine history and operations
- significant changes that have been made to the mine site (e.g., altered process or operations, new effluent treatment or operations)
- a summary of any violations of MMER requirements during the EEM study
- relevant historical information concerning MMER and EEM
Synopsis of ecological aspects of study area
- any ecological variations that have occurred in the study area since submission of the study design, such as:
- any new factors, natural or anthropogenic, that may affect the study area, including any new confounding factors
- any unusual significant events that may have occurred (e.g., floods, spills)
- any new information that was not available at the time the study design was submitted
Synopsis of study design
- any changes from initial study design and the rationale for such changes
Location: Include any information pertaining to the mine site, and sampling areas and stations such as:
- comprehensive sampling areas and station location maps
- the latitude and longitude, and a description of the sampling areas and stations sufficient to identify their location
- rationale for choosing sampling areas and stations
- photographs of the sampling areas and stations
Methods: Include information on procedures and techniques used to perform the study, problems that may have occurred and their solutions, and justification of any variations in methods from those stated in the original study design. If a tracer study is used to delineate the effluent plume in the receiving environment, identify the type of chemical or biochemical tracer, the method used, and the justification behind the selection.
Data: Include all raw data in tables in appendices, and ensure that raw data are also reported electronically as previously described in section 10.1.2. The benthic invertebrate data should be organized by taxonomic level (e.g., order, family, genus and species). Also include all data and results of QA/QC assessments (e.g., standard reference materials, duplicates, field blanks, calibration charts, fish‑aging validation results, and, in the case of benthic laboratory sub‑sampling procedures, the accuracy, precision and recovery rate).
Statistics: Indicate the methods and tests used for statistical analysis, including a justification for these choices, assessment of data variability, data transformations, outliers or extreme values (also provide scatter plots for fish and benthic invertebrate surveys to help identify outliers and other unusual data), data screening results (for benthic invertebrate data) and interactions (for analysis of co-variance [ANCOVA]). Further details on conducting statistical analyses are provided in Chapter 8.
Results: Include summary statistics of the raw data (including mean, median, SD, standard error, and minimum and maximum values) and statistical analysis results (including p-value and effect size) in table or figure formats for fish and benthic invertebrate surveys. Discuss the effect of outliers or extreme values on the results, if any, and include a comparison of habitat between sampling areas. The results of the power analysis conducted to evaluate the ability to detect a specified change for a given level of confidence should also be included.
A summary of the results of effluent characterization, sublethal toxicity testing and water quality monitoring reported annually in RISS must also be included in the interpretative report to help interpret the biological results.
Discussion: Include a discussion of the observed similarities or differences between sampling areas; discuss the implications of the factors affecting the interpretation of the results, such as any confounding factors, the validity of reference areas selected and the methodologies used, power analysis results, trend detection (e.g., interaction), and the problems encountered during the study, if any, and how they may affect the results; provide a summary of adherence to data quality objectives, standard operating procedures, and identification of any QA/QC problems; include a comparison of present results to previous studies in the same area or other mine studies in the literature; and discuss implications of the results on subsequent phases, taking into account the problems encountered, if any, and suggesting potential site-specific solutions/approaches for future phases.
Conclusions: Provide an overall assessment of the biological monitoring studies of all the combined results and discussions. Include suggestions on how future EEM studies could be improved. The information provided here will help in the development of studies in subsequent phases.
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