Mining sites - Industry standard under the Local Air Quality Regulation (O. Reg. 419/05)

ERO number
013-0196
Notice type
Policy
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
April 20, 2017 - June 19, 2017 (60 days) Closed

This consultation was open from:
April 20, 2017
to June 19, 2017

Decision summary

We have adopted a new Technical Standard for mining sites to address air emissions and help protect communities who live close to these industrial sources. This is a sector-based compliance approach under the local air quality regulation.

Decision details

The ministry has adopted the new Mining Sites – Industry Standard under the local air quality regulation.

This is a technology-based compliance approach to address where two or more facilities in a sector are not able to meet one or more air standards due to technical or economic limitations.

Provincial air standards are set based on science and therefore, may not be achievable by a facility or a sector due to unique technical or economic limitations. Instead of making the air standard less stringent, the regulation allows facilities or sectors to exceed the air standard as long as they are working to reduce their air emissions as much as possible with technology-based solutions and best practices.

These technical standards require companies to invest in the best available technologies and practices to reduce air emissions and improve air quality over time. They encourage new investments in modern air pollution controls with the goal of minimizing air pollution over time.

The ministry oversees the companies’ progress to ensure they are achieving the desired results and have seen improvements in air emissions.

BACKGROUND:

This decision is for a technical standard (the “Mining Sites – Industry Standard”) for the mining sites sector under the local air quality regulation (O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution - Local Air Quality).

This applies to facilities identified as part of NAICS code 212232 (nickel-copper mines) and 212233(copper-zinc mines).

The contaminants covered in this technical standard include:

  • Nickel and Nickel compounds;
  • Suspended particulate matter,
  • Other metals in the body of ore (these are unique to individual sites) and could include:
    • Copper,
    • Zinc,
    • Cobalt, Cadmium, and Cadmium compounds.

Through our unique regulatory approach we set science-based standards and use these standards to evaluate the performance of industrial facilities.

Facilities that are not able to meet an air standard due to technical or economic limitations may request an alternative compliance pathway through a site-specific or technical standard. A technical standard is possible when two or more facilities in a sector are not able to meet one or more air standards. Site-specific and technical standards require companies to invest in the best available technologies and practices to reduce air emissions and improve air quality over time. The ministry closely oversees progress to ensure the facilities are achieving the desired results. We have seen improvements in air emissions as a result of our regulatory approach.

In 2012, the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) requested that the ministry develop a Technical Standard for nickel and nickel compounds. The air standards for this contaminant came into effect July 1, 2016.

When the ministry develops a technical standard, representative facilities in the sector are compared to other similar facilities operating in other jurisdictions to determine whether similar requirements can be set for Ontario facilities. In addition, development of a technical standard includes

  • a detailed review of the specific sources of contaminant(s) for that sector, 
  • a benchmarking of technologies and best management practices to address these sources, 
  • and the consideration of economic issues that relate to the sector. 

Embedded in the technical standard (Mining Sites - Industry Standard) are a combination of compliance approaches that link together to form a strategy ensuring that: 

  • Facilities have greater accountability for self-assuring compliance and driving continuous improvement;
  • Ministry oversight is applied through triggers that require notification to the ministry, and follow up actions, when necessary, and 
  • Facilities provide annual summary reports which have been signed by the highest ranking individual at the facility with management responsibilities

We have updated the publication Technical Standards to Manage Air Pollution" to include the Mining Sites – Industry Standard. Any facility in the sector (that may or may not meet the air standard) can apply to register under this compliance approach. Such registration would involve a posting on the Environmental Registry and may involve additional public outreach.

Comments received

Through the registry

3

By email

0

By mail

3
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

All comments received during the comment period were considered as part of the decision-making process by the ministry. The following are highlights of key comments received and how they were considered by the ministry.

Comment: Some “definitions” are not clearly describing the objectives and because of this, the requirements for specific types of material are confusing and at times unnecessary.

Response: The definitions used to describe “ore-bearing” and “non-ore bearing” material, and “mining material” were revised to make a clear distinction in the requirements and expectations. Part II to Part VIII of the Mining Sites – Industry Standard were also re-worded to reflect the new definitions.

Comment: Some of the mitigation methods proposed are not economically or technologically justified. (e.g. a wind fence around a tailings area).

Response: The use of wind barriers is well documented in the practice of mining worldwide. The use of an artificial or natural wind barrier is to be kept as a non-mandatory option in this industry standard.

Comment: The requirement to install baffles on the return air rises that exhaust the air from the underground mines would impact on the efficient removal of contaminants affecting the health and safety of workers.

Response: The requirement for baffles has been removed from this industry standard. However,facilities will still be required to consider the orientation of any new built return air rise to ensure the exhaust is not directed towards a community. Comment: Meteorological forecasting and documenting is burdensome and unnecessary.

Response: Meteorological conditions (winds, precipitation) impact the amount and direction of contaminants that could be discharged and also affect the air monitoring results. For these reasons it is important to log the weather conditions for a specific site. If a meteorological tower does not exist on site, the closest available meteorological information could be used.

Comment: Reporting requirements are onerous and repetitious.

Response: Public reporting, notification and record keeping requirements are part of the industry standard to ensure the accuracy and public transparency of the operations.

Comment: The use of a berm around an open pit mine would not be justified since there is no evidence of reducing particulate emissions.

Response: Recently published computational fluid dynamics studies demonstrated that a barrier installed between the source and the receptor minimizes the amount of particulates at the receptor.Since this is relatively new aspect, it is recommended to further study and gather information that could be used in the future industry standard amendments.

Comment: The statistical approach described in the posted proposal to be used to determine if the control measures are performing as assumed is too complicated. Response: It has been determined that a simple mathematical averaging calculation would give the necessary information and the sections pertaining to monitoring baseline calculations were revised to reflect this change.

Comment: Consideration should be given to extend the requirement to use wet drilling or drills fitted with particulate collection equipment to all open pit mines not only the new ones.

Response: This suggestion has been considered and discussed and incorporated in the industry standard.

Comment: Two comments suggested a cycle of periodic re-assessment and regular review/update of the industry standard.

Response: Generally, the industry standards could be amended at any time. The following factors could be considered when deciding whether or not an industry standard should be considered for a review:

  1. The length of time the technical standard has been in place.
  2. New technically and/or economically feasible options that have become commercially available.
  3. Any new scientific information relating to the nature of any contaminant to which the technical standard applies.

Comment: One comment noted that the industry standard will create a fair, leveled playing field for the mining companies.

Response: This is one of the goals of the industry standard for the facilities registered.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

You can view supporting materials in person. Some are not available online because of ownership rights or for accessibility reasons.

Get in touch with the contact person listed below to find out what materials are available.

You can view them in person at these locations:

Local Air Quality Section
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th & 9th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Mona Crivat

Phone number
Office
Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
013-0196
Notice type
Policy
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Proposal posted

Comment period

April 20, 2017 - June 19, 2017 (60 days)

Proposal details

Description of policy

This proposal is for a Technical Standard under the local air quality regulation for the mining sites sector.

The primary objectives of a technical standard, under Ontario’s Local Air Quality Regulation, is to set requirements for the implementation of best available air pollution control or best practices. This will result in a modernization of operations and reducing air emissions. In practical terms, a technical standard provides a prescriptive set of air pollution control requirements or best practices that focus on key contributors to off-site concentrations of priority air toxics.

In 2012, the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) requested that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (the ministry) develop a Technical Standard under the Local Air Quality Regulation (O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution – Local Air Quality) for nickel and nickel compounds. The air standards for this contaminant came into effect July 1, 2016. The key contaminants of interest for the mining sites sector include: nickel and nickel compounds as well as other accompanying metals in the body of ore, (these are site- specific and could include metals such as copper, zinc, cobalt, and cadmium and cadmium compounds) and suspended particulate matter. This proposed Mining Sites-Industry Standard is intended to apply to facilities identified as part of NAICS code 212232 (nickel-copper mines) and 212233 (copper-zinc mines). A facility that meets its obligations under a technical standard is in compliance with the regulation.

When the ministry develops a proposed technical standard, representative facilities in the sector are compared to other similar facilities operating in other jurisdictions to determine whether similar requirements can be set for Ontario facilities. In addition, development of a technical standard includes a detailed review of the specific sources of contaminant(s) for that sector, benchmarking of technologies and best management practices to address these sources, and consideration of economic issues that relate to the sector.

The dominant sources of key contaminants from this sector consist of the following:

  • storage areas, including tailings;
  • material handling and processing;
  • mills;
  • return air raises for underground mines;
  • open pit mines; and
  • roads.

A summary of the proposed requirements are included in the attached rationale document and the proposed Mining Sites – Industry Standard. The following requirements are included:

  • enclosed building storage for fine mining material at new facilities;
  • chemical dust suppressant application and /or maintaining a moisture level preventing the particulates discharge;
  • requirements for sources located within 1 and /or 2 kilometres from human receptors, including community monitoring;
  • mandatory air pollution control equipment for milling activities;
  • annual monitoring reports including a summary of actions taken to address any statistically significant higher monitoring results;
  • operating and monitoring requirements;
  • requirements to make operational adjustments (when deviations occur);
  • complaint response procedures;
  • requirements to maintain existing air pollution controls or management methods at the facility (even it is not specified in the proposed technical standard);
  • more stringent requirements that phase in over time;
  • public reporting, notification and recordkeeping requirements.

The ministry has been working with members of the OMA since 2013 as part of a technical committee. The air standard for nickel and nickel compounds came into effect July 1, 2016. Starting on August 1, 2016, facilities were expected to begin implementation of key aspects of the proposed technical standard as part of an abatement plan aimed at improving operational practices. Additional requirements are proposed for facilities that register under this proposed technical standard.

Embedded in the proposed Mining Sites - Industry Standard are a combination of compliance approaches that link together to form a strategy ensuring that:

  • Facilities have greater accountability for self-assuring compliance and driving continuous improvement;
  • Ministry oversight is applied by including triggers that require notification to the ministry, and follow up actions, when necessary, and
  • Requirement to provide annual summary reports which have been signed by the highest ranking individual at the facility with management responsibilities.

Once the technical standard is published, any facility in the sector (that may or may not meet the air standard) could apply to register under this compliance approach. Such registration would involve a posting on the Environmental Registry and may involve additional public outreach. The goal is to have a more efficient tool to better manage air emissions and reduce overall exposure from various industrial and commercial facilities in a sector.

Purpose of policy

The ministry regulates contaminants in air because we want to be protective of communities who live close to industrial sources.

Ontario’s Local Air Quality Regulation (O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution – Local Air Quality) works within the province’s air management framework by regulating air contaminants released into communities by various sources including local industrial and commercial facilities.

Ontario has a unique regulatory approach to improving local air quality that starts with setting science-based standards to protect human health and the environment. While these standards may not always be achievable due to limitations in technology or economics, the goal is to reduce emissions through continuous improvement and best available technologies and practices over time.

Some facilities that are not able to meet an air standard may request a site-specific or technical standard. These standards require companies to invest in the best available technologies and practices to reduce air emissions and improve air quality over time.

These standards are all about getting new investments in modern air pollution controls with the goal of minimizing air pollution over time. The ministry closely oversees the companies’ progress to ensure they are achieving the desired results.

We have seen vast improvements to address air emissions as a result of our regulatory approach.

Site-specific and technical standards are developed with full public transparency through public meetings and consultations. The ministry consults the public on all applications for site-specific and technical standards and public input plays an integral role in the ministry’s review of proposals.

There are two types of technical standards:

  • Industry Standards regulate all sources of a specified contaminant(s) within an industry sector.
  • Equipment Standards address a source of contaminant, but may apply to one or multiple industry sectors.

Facilities in a sector that are operating under a technical standard must focus on best practices and lower emissions to reduce risks to local communities. When the ministry develops a proposed technical standard, key sources of contaminants are identified and prescribed steps and timelines are proposed to address them. Some facilities may also choose to register under the technical standard for contaminants where they meet the air standards. This allows them to be excluded from the modelling requirements and reduce regulatory burden and costs while focusing resources where needed to manage emissions.

A facility that meets its obligations under a technical standard is in compliance with the regulation for the registered contaminants.

Public consultation

This proposal was posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting April 20, 2017. Comments were to be received by June 19, 2017.

All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.

Other public consultation opportunities

The ministry has an Air Standards/Regulation 419 External Working Group (EWG) which is comprised of industry, public health groups, environmental non-government organizations and some First Nations. The goal of the EWG is to facilitate a discussion on matters relating to the local air quality regulation [O. Reg. 419/05] and to provide recommendations for consideration by the ministry. This proposal will also be shared with this group.

In general, industry representatives emphasized the importance of focusing on the most significant sources; considering lessons-learned from implementation of existing practices and ensuring that the development of proposed requirements consider cost effectiveness.

During the development of the proposed industry standard, OMA members that are considering registration to the proposed technical standard were encouraged to reach out to interested First Nations or Indigenous groups in their communities.

In addition, letters were sent to key First Nations (Indigenous) communities in the Sudbury and Timmins areas where there are Nickel-Copper-Zinc mines. Additional information was provided to interested parties.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

You can view supporting materials in person. Some are not available online because of ownership rights or for accessibility reasons.

Get in touch with the contact person listed below to find out what materials are available.

You can view them in person at these locations:

Local Air Quality Section
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th & 9th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from April 20, 2017
to June 19, 2017

Connect with us

Contact

Mona Crivat

Phone number
Office
Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number