Environmental, and Occupational Health and Safety

Environmental protection and the health and safety of its workers are priorities for the Processing Facility. By nature, zinc-processing facilities have environmental, health and safety issues, including the potential for adverse impacts on the environment and workers' safety.

Several programs and initiatives have been implemented to minimize the impact on the operations. Over the past ten years, the Processing Facility has invested more than $100 million in the protection of the environment.

The Processing Facility's operations are subject to extensive government laws, policies and guidelines relating to the protection of the environment and occupational health and safety, including air and water quality and waste handling and disposal. The Processing Facility is in material compliance with all applicable environmental and occupational health and safety laws.

Environmental Management System
The Processing Facility has a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS), which consists of an environmental policy, as well as implementation codes and procedures, including codes of practice, job descriptions, operating procedures, rules and responsibilities, employee training, public and employee communications (including a community awareness committee), emergency preparedness, hazard analyses and audits. The system was certified ISO 14001-2004 in November 2005.

View Environmental Policy (51 K PDF).

Over the past several years, the Facility's water effluent discharges have been reduced considerably by investment in new equipment and by the skill and commitment of its employees to the environment.

Wastewater Treatment
The waste water treatment plant was modernized in 1998 in order to handle solutions from three sources: pre-treated (for zinc recovery) filtrates from the jarosite filtration process, pre-treated (for mercury and selenium removal) weak acid bleed and all rainwater collected from the site. The weak acid treatment process for mercury removal was modified in 1998 to reduce selenium discharges.

Air Emissions Management
SO2 emissions from the acid plants went through a major improvement program in 2005-2006 to reduce fugitive emissions. The Processing Facility models its SO2 emissions in real time to ensure environmental compliance. Two additional measuring stations for ambient air quality were installed near the residential areas.

Residue Disposal
JarofixThe Jarofix process treats approximately 160,000 tonnes per year of a sodium jarosite residue. In this world-class process, commissioned at the end of 1998, the thickened material from the leaching process is pumped onto three belt filters for dewatering and washing.

The jarosite residue is then subjected to a stabilization/solidification process using lime and Portland cement. The mixture is poured into a dump truck where it is hauled about 1 km away and deposited in a permitted disposal site. The Jarofix product will then cure and transform into a solid residue, which is chemically and physically stable. The Jarofix disposal site has a life expectancy in excess of 50 years. The Processing Facility implemented a continuous restoration plan of the residue storage ponds. To date, two sites, representing a total surface area of 27 hectares, have been restored.

Future Regulations
Future regulations may place lower limits on allowable emissions of all kinds, including air, water, waste and hazardous materials and may increase the financial consequences of spills. An annual charge for releases is now in place by the Ministère du développement durable, de l’'environnement, de la faune et des parcs. The Processing Facility's policies and programs, continuous improvement of environmental management, and emphasis on innovation have enabled it to develop and implement effective measures to maintain emissions in material compliance with regulatory requirements. The Manager believes that adherence to and strengthening of these policies and programs will enable the Processing Facility to comply with future regulatory requirements in a cost effective manner, however, there can be no assurance that this will be the case.

Health and Safety
A safe and healthy workplace is fundamental to our ongoing success. It contributes to our position as an employer of choice, enhancing our ability to attract and retain qualified and dedicated employees.

With the cooperation of our employees, we are concentrating our efforts on setting up a management system that is based on a sustainable development strategy and incorporates the most effective management practices by focusing on accident reduction (91% reduction in the number of reportable accidents since 2006). Our approach is largely based on identifying and assessing risks in order to maintain our low accident frequency performance and to have a positive impact on accident severity. We are sticking to our require¬ments with regard to accountability and establishing safe work practices.

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