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Inco Limited Named Worst Mining Polluter in Canada (24 Jul 03) International Groups Decry Barrick Go

Published by MAC on 2003-07-24

Inco Limited Named Worst Mining Polluter in Canada

24 July 2003

Press Release from PollutionWatch, Toronto, Canada

PollutionWatch web site ranks pollution from mining sector across Canada

Inco Limited holds the top spot on the list of the biggest polluters in the metal mining sector, released today by Environmental Defence Canada. The list is based on pollution data collected by the federal government. Inco is by far the worst mining polluter in Canada, releasing 704,808 kg of poisonous heavy metals in 2001 from three facilities - 621,724 kg alone coming from its Central Mills facility located in Copper Cliff, Ontario near Sudbury.

"The amount of pollution from Inco's mining facilities is more than double that of the second highest mining polluter in Canada," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada. "Inco produces nearly three times as much nickel as its competitor Falconbridge, but over 13 times more pollution. Clearly, Inco is anything but a responsible corporate citizen."

Using the latest federal government data obtained from the PollutionWatch ( web site, Environmental Defence Canada's list ranks the Top 10 metal mining polluters in Canada according to the amount of pollution released into the air and water.



Total Pollution

1 Inco Limited 704,808 kg 2 Williams Operating Corporation 255,152 kg 3 Placer Dome (CLA) Limited 193,810 kg 4 Barrick Gold Corporation 118,424 kg 5 Services Minéraux Industriels Inc 105,505 kg 6 Wabush Mines 100,300 kg 7 Cameco Corporation 88,812 kg 8 Noranda Inc 54,226 kg 9 Goldcorp Inc 54,146 kg 10 Teck Cominco Metals 53,898 kg

Falconbridge Ltd. falls just outside the Top 10 list, producing a total of 52,326 kg of pollution.

Canadians are breathing in toxic chemicals every day due to the high levels of pollution being emitted from mining facilities across the country, which include lead, arsenic, nickel, cadmium, and mercury. These pollutants have been declared legally toxic in Canada. Lead is associated with kidney and blood problems, as well as neurological disorders. Arsenic and nickel (and its compounds) cause cancer, and are believed not to have a safe threshold for human exposure. Cadmium is considered a probable carcinogen when inhaled and is associated with the development of kidney disease. Long-term exposure to mercury can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, and developing fetuses.

"The mining industry must do more to reduce its toxic emissions because breathing these poisonous chemicals is harmful to our health," said Dr. Smith. "Both the federal and provincial governments must get serious about toxic pollution. They can start by phasing out the release of dangerous heavy metals, like lead and cadmium."

About PollutionWatch

PollutionWatch ( is a collaborative project of Environmental Defence Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy. The web site tracks pollution across Canada based on data collected by Environment Canada through the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). Visitors to the PollutionWatch web site can identify polluters in their home towns by searching by postal code, access "quick lists" of the largest polluters in the country, get pollution trends 1995-2001, or create their own ranked lists of polluters by province, municipality, industrial sector, or corporation.

About Environmental Defence Canada

Founded in 1984, Environmental Defence Canada ( provides Canadians with the tools and knowledge they need to protect and improve the environment and their health. We are a national, charitable organization committed to engaging the public, finding solutions, and advancing the environmental rights of future generations.

Environmental Defence Canada has been assisting families in Port Colborne, Ontario for more than two years in their fight to require Inco to clean up its pollution legacy in the town.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Communications Director, Environmental Defence Canada,

Elizabeth Chiu, Communications Officer, Environmental Defence Canada,

Visit our web site -

Inco must clean up its act! - government

July 26 2003

Carol Mulligan, The Sudbury Star

Inco Ltd. has to clean up its act - quite literally, says the executive director of Environmental Defence Canada (EDC). Inco tops the list of the 10 worst mining polluters in Canada, according to the charitable environmental rights association. Worse still, Inco is "so out of whack with other mining companies, it's staggering," says Rick Smith. Inco produces three times as much nickel as Falconbridge, but it creates more than 13 times as much pollution, he pointed out. "Clearly, Inco is anything but a responsible corporate citizen," said Smith, in an interview yesterday from his Toronto office. Pollution data supplied by both Inco and Falconbridge to the federal government "tells the real tale." According to information collected by Environment Canada through its National Pollutant Release Inventory, Inco released 794,808 kilograms of poisonous heavy metals in 2001 from three facilities - 621,724 kilograms from the Copper Cliff smelter alone. Falconbridge, which fell just outside the list of Top 10 polluters, released 52,326 kilograms of poisonous heavy metals.

An Inco spokesman was quick to point out that distinct differences between the two companies account for those figures. First, said Steve Mitchell, Inco produces a finished metal product whereas Falconbridge produces nickel matte, which is shipped elsewhere to be finished. As a result, Inco uses more sulphides to refine its nickel. And the facilities in which the ore is treated are "very different," said Mitchell. When asked why Inco wouldn't employ the same type of system Falconbridge does, Mitchell said that would mean Inco getting rid of its smelter. On the plus side, he said, Inco's process uses less energy and produces fewer greenhouse gases than the Falconbridge system. But that doesn't impress Smith much. "I don't think the lungs of Canadians really care about the ins and outs of the differences between the smelting processes at Inco and Falconbridge," he said. Canadians want corporations to reduce the pollution they are emitting. "Frankly, we just don't see that in the case of Inco." Again, Mitchell would disagree. "Since 1986, we've invested $845 million to reduce emissions in Sudbury.

"Right how, we're spending $115 million in new fluid bed roaster technology that will make another major reduction, not just in S02 emissions, but also it will reduce our metals emissions by 80-100 tons per year." With the latest improvements, the smelter will have cut metals emissions 80 per cent since 1988, said Mitchell. The nickel giant is "investing a lot of capital and time to lowering our emissions in a steady and responsible way, making sure we balance the impact on jobs and the economics of our Sudbury operation," he said. Smith calls the differences in the processing systems of Inco and Falconbridge "completely irrelevant." Companies that want to be seen as responsible corporate citizens are making a more concerted effort to reduce pollution. And there are some "good news" stories, said Smith. Canadian mining companies are producing less mercury than they used to, since it was determined to have such a deadly effect. "That same sort of progress needs to be made" with other metals, he said. "There are good corporate citizens and there are bad corporate citizens. Inco has to decide which one it wants to be." Mitchell points out that, beyond meeting its government-mandated commitments, Inco is investing in research to further cut its emissions.

The environmental group says that among Inco's pollutants are high levels of known carcinogens, and the point of drawing up the list is to draw attention to the impact of pollution. "We took a look at them to encourage Canadians to take a look at pollution, to encourage the federal government to really get tough on the most toxic substances," said Jennifer Foulds, communications director with EDC. "We could use tougher pollution prevention laws and better enforcement."

Brian McMahon, project manager with the Ministry of the Environment in Sudbury and a member of the Sudbury Soils Study technical committee, said the province plays a "much more active role" in regulating pollution emissions than Environment Canada. The ministry's approach to pollution control is one of "continuous reduction," said McMahon. A new control order issued last year will reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by another 34 per cent by 2007, and will reduce poisonous heavy metals as well. Whereas Environment Canada monitors emissions annually, the province monitors emissions as often as half-hourly. As well as requiring companies to comply with guidelines by 2007, they are being required to prepare further detailed plans by 2010 for cutting pollution. "We are not accepting that 2007 is the end of the story," said McMahon. Rounding out the Top10 list are: Placer Dome (CLA) Ltd., 193,810 kilograms; Barrick Gold Corporation, 118,424 kilograms; Services Mineraux Industriels Inc., 105,505 kilograms; Wabush Mines, 100,300 kilograms; Cameco Corporation, 88,812 kilograms; Noranda Inc., 54,226 kilograms; Goldcorp Inc., 54,146 kilograms; and Teck Cominco Metals, 53,898 kilograms.

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