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Environmental Web Sources and Data about Flin Flon Mines Area

Geochemichal map of Flin Flon ARSENIC Levels:
Heavy Metals in Humus:

As (ppm) in humus

sources: http://sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/tsd_dcp/index_heavymetals_flinflon_e.asp

Excerpts from article below about the Flin Flon area:

"...much information, including that collected by Health Canada (e.g., toxic metal levels in blueberries) has not been made available to the residents of Flin Flon." and...

"The higher the metal content of the soil, the higher the metal content of the plant."

Abandoned Mines Leave Dirty Legacy of Toxic Water
Monday, February 10th, 2003
Winnipeg Free Press
By Helen Fallding

Water near an abandoned mine outside Flin Flon has some of the highest levels of metal contamination in Canada and possibly the world, according to a federal government scientist.

Zinc, lead and cobalt -- toxic to spawning fish and potentially risky for people -- were among the pollutants found near Sherridon mine waste piles about 60 kilometres northeast of Flin Flon, Carol Ptacek said.

"It's like battery acid, basically -- maybe not quite as strong,' said the researcher with Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute in Burlington, Ont.

Ptacek was asked to study the mine wastes by Manitoba Conservation following complaints from residents of nearby Sherridon, where wind blows dust from tailings piles and residents eat fish or berries that may be contaminated.

Water that comes in contact with the tailings evaporates, concentrating the pollutants and turning ponds at the mine site bright red.

But Ptacek said many of the contaminants solidify and settle on the bottom of the small lakes near the mine and they are diluted by the time they reach Kississing Lake.

Manitoba Conservation is assessing the risk to fish and people, but results of that work are not yet available.

A University of Manitoba student found metals in the ear bones of fish in the area, but that study was not enough to establish whether there is any risk from eating the fish.

Sherridon deputy mayor Nick Benyk said residents have not noticed any health problems related to the acid leaching.

"I don't think there's anything we can put our fingers on."

Fish tend to avoid the area close to the mine and fishing guides try not to fly tourists over the weirdly coloured water, Benyk said.

Ptacek said many old mine sites across Canada face similar problems.

Work is also underway to assess the environmental impact of the Lynn Lake Sherritt Gordon Mine. In 2001, the province committed $1 million over four years to assess five old mine sites, including the Baker Paton Mine, Gods Lake Gold Mine and the Snow Lake arsenopyrite stockpile.

Copper and zinc were mined at Sherridon from 1928 until the mine closed in 1951. Waste piles of sulphide minerals combine with oxygen in the air to create sulphuric acid.

The leaching could go on for decades or even centuries unless something is done to stop it, Ptacek said.

The province will consider treating the groundwater -- a multimillion-dollar proposition -- or some of the alternatives still being tested in other parts of the world. The waste could be covered top and bottom so water cannot contact it or covered in wood chips that absorb oxygen before it gets to the tailings.

Ptacek said it typically takes a few years to design a remediation plan that fits the site.

Mining companies that left waste behind decades ago are largely off the hook for cleanup costs because of historically lax environmental regulations. New mines face stricter rules.

Information on abandoned mines across the country is available on the Web site of lobby group MiningWatch Canada: http://www.miningwatch.ca

article source:


Flin Flon Soil Sample Data:

Table 1.
Median of element concentrations in humus (<0.425 mm) as a function of distance from the smelter.

* see table below:

Element All samples Samples > 50 kma Sample > 75 kmb Snow Lake samples
Smelter metals
As (ppm) 6 3 3 3
Cd (ppm) 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.8
Cu (ppm) 36 20 17 17
Hg (ppb) 300 190 180 176
Pb (ppm) 56 34 28 33
Zn (ppm) 172 84 68 101
Non-smelter metals
Cr (ppm) 11 11 12 11
Ni (ppm) 8 8 8 8
>
Major elements
Ca (%) 0.95 1.25 1.33 1.01
Fe (%) 0.58 0.52 0.53 0.47
Mg (%) 0.22 0.31 0.38 0.35

table source here:
http://iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/page1/envir/flin/smelter.htm#table
or
http://iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/page1/envir/flin/smelter.htm


Excessive Lead and Arsenic Concentrations Found in Flin Flon Air Tests

"Air pollution at Flin Flon near Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting continues to exceed provincial air quality objectives, with no noticeable changes from previous patterns. Levels of sulphur dioxide vary from month to month but, on average, exceed the 1-hour maximum acceptable level some 15 -- 20 hours each month at the five monitoring sites in Flin Flon and nearby Creighton on the Saskatchewan side. Records also show that, in Flin Flon, levels of particulates, and concentrations of lead and arsenic, sometimes exceed provincial objectives and guidelines."

source:
http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/annual-report/soe-reports/soe93/air.html

"Levels of sulphur dioxide in Flin Flon continue to exceed provincial air quality objectives, with no noticeable change from previous patterns."

source:
http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/annual-report/soe-reports/soe93/air.html


"The Canadian Environmental Defence Fund said mining smelters in Canada released more than 2.3 million pounds of heavy metals in 1998, including arsenic, mercury, lead and nickel compounds, all highly poisonous and harmful to people's health and the environment.

Ranked by facility, the fund's report said Inco's Copper Cliff operation in Sudbury, Ontario, was a major polluter, followed by Noranda's Horne smelter in Quebec, then Hudson Bay's Flin Flon smelter in Manitoba..."

source:
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=9602


Manitoba - Hudson Bay - Flin Flon

Hudson Bay Flin Flon Copper Smelter and Zinc Refinery - "The toxic metals deserve more attention because of known human health effects."

source:
http://www.pollutionprobe.org/Publications/Smelter%20Report.pdf


"Mine Site Closure

In the Flin Flon and Snow Lake areas, Hudson's Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS) began a mine and mine site rehabilitation program following the shut down of a number of their mines during the 1980s...

The tailings generated by these sites, which are located near HBMS's Flin Flon smelter, do remain an ongoing concern for water quality...

The decommissioning work conducted by HBMS in the early 1990s consisted of the removal of mine structures and the replacement of waste rock in to underground workings. Since these mines were all underground mines and ore was processed off site, the reclamation practices were simplified on site - the wastes could be deposited underground.

As mentioned above, the more toxic tailings are located in Flin Flon.

The sheer size of the contaminated area in Flin Flon makes it impossible to remediate. In particular, there is a large volume of tailings that blow in the wind, and the metal content (copper, cadmium and lead) makes it difficult for vegetation to establish. Community concerns have historically not been adequately addressed, and much information, including that collected by Health Canada (e. g., toxic metal levels in blueberries) has not been made available to the residents of Flin Flon...

There are concerns regarding environmental quality in northern Manitoba because the metals continue to cycle in the natural systems, and the acid deposition makes the problem worse by making the metals readily assimilable. Revegetating areas such as tailings dumps would really require sealing the tailings off from access by roots, otherwise the metals will continue to recycle.

The higher the metal content of the soil, the higher the metal content of the plant."

source:
http://www.miningwatch.ca/documents/financial_options_paper.pdf


"At highly contaminated sites (<3 km), in till, increased percentages of smelter related elements in labile phases may suggests heavy metals are leached from humus to the underlying sediments... Detailed humus profile and forest litter samples were collected at 9 selected sites over the Flin Flon area..."

source:
http://iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/page1/envir/flin/other.htm


"The distribution of smelter related elements in humus represents the historical record of contamination in the Flin Flon area. The base metal mining and smelting complex has been in operation since the early 1930's, processing ore from local mines, and has undergone many changes during its history..."

source:
http://iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/page1/envir/flin/humus.htm

further source:
http://iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/page1/envir/flin/smelter.htm


"Concentrations of emitted metals are elevated in the surface organic-rich horizons of soils near Rouyn-Noranda (Pb>Cu), Trail (Pb>Cu>Hg), Flin Flon (Cu=Pb>Hg) and Pinchi (Hg), and decrease with increasing distance from the source according to simple regression models. Integrations under the regression models generally show a good relationship to the estimated historical emissions."

"Humus is therefore capable of effectively retaining the deposited metal emissions near the facilities. Some evidence for leaching of metal contaminants from the humus into the mineral soils is seen at Trail, where Pb accumulation in the B-horizons is observed to a distance of at least 20 km from the smelter, and at Flin Flon and Rouyn-Noranda, where the B-horizons of sites located within 10 km of the smelters can be contaminated by smelter-related metals."

source:
http://www.mite-rn.org/ann_symp/2002/gsc-abstracts.shtml


The leading sources of mercury were Safety-Kleen Ltd., a big hazardous waste processor near Sarnia, followed by Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. in Flin Flon, Man., and almost all of the country's major coal-fired power stations.

The rankings were made possible because Environment Canada has forced industries and municipalities, for the first time, to make public the amounts of mercury and dioxins they are discharging into the country's air, land and water.

The information was placed on Environment Canada's national databank of major pollution releases by domestic industries during the year 2000.

source:
http://www.cleanair.web.net/media/dec1201.html


Environment Canada on Hudson Bay Mining:

3.2.2 Mining Impacts

Metal smelters in the Boreal Shield are point sources of acid and heavy metal pollution that cause widespread aquatic contamination via atmospheric transport (Lockhart et al., 1993; Gunn, 1995; Rudd, 1995). Mercury and cadmium are released into the atmosphere through smelting and other industrial processes, then deposited across the landscape, including in Boreal Shield lakes. Once they enter the food chain, they accumulate in tissues of organisms and may reach toxic levels (Malley, 1993; Malley et al., 1996).

Manitoba's Flin Flon smelter has been a chronic cause of environmental concerns and exceeds emission limits for an average of 150 hours per year (Gibson et al., 1997). Although eastern smelters have made significant acid emission reductions of over 75% over the past 20 years, Manitoba's reductions over the same period (Flin Flon and Thompson combined) have been only 24% (Table 2).

sources:
http://www.ec.gc.ca/soer-ree/English/soer/CRAengfin3.cfm


Flin Flon >> Publications

Publications Papers/reports


Trace metals in surficial deposits reflect bedrock geology and the composition of glacially transported material. In some areas they can also reflect the effects of mining and smelting activities. Since the early 1930's, smelting of base metal ore at Flin Flon, Manitoba, has released large quantities of metal-rich particulates into the atmosphere. The metals include arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, mercury, lead, and zinc, all of which can affect human health, wildlife, and vegetation. To determine the dispersal and fate of Flin Flon smelter-derived metals, about 2000 samples of humus (decomposed leaf and plant litter) and the underlying C-horizon (till) were collected over a 36,000 km2 area and analyzed geochemically.



Bonham-Carter, G.F. and McMartin, I.

1997: Calculations on metals in humus around the base metal smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; in Proceedings of IAMG'97 (Third Annual Conference of International Association for Mathematical Geology), ed. V.Pawlowsky-Glahn, pp.262-269, International Center for Nummerical Methods (CIMNE), Barcelona, Spain.

Henderson, P.J., Knight, R. and McMartin, I.

1999: Heavy-metal concentrations in soils surrounding Canadian base-metal smelters: a comparative study; in Current Research 1999-D, Geological Survey of Canada, 17-26.

Henderson, P.J. and McMartin, I.

1995: Mercury distribution in humus and surficial sediments in the vicinity of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; Water, Air and Soil Pollution, vol. 80, p. 1043-1046.

Henderson, P.J., McMartin, I., Hall, G.E.M., Walker, D., and Percival, J.B.

1998: The chemical and physical characteristics of heavy metals in humus and till in the vicinity of the base metal smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; Environmental Geology, Vol. 34, p.39-58.

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., Nielsen, E, and Campbell, J.E.

1996: Surficial Geology, Till and Humus Composition Across the Shield Margin, North-Central Manitoba and Saskatchewan: Geospatial Analysis of a Glaciated Environment, Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3277, 647 p.

McMartin, I. and Henderson, P.J.

1996: Regional distribution of heavy metals in humus and till near a base metal smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; in EXPLORE (Newsletter for the Association of Exploration Geochemists), no. 93, October 1996, p. 10-11.

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., and Nielsen, E.

1999: Impact of a base metal smelter on the geochemistry of soils of the Flin Flon region, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Vol. 36, p.141-160.

McMartin, I., Henderson, PJ., Plouffe, A., and Knight, R.D.

2002: Comparison of Cu-Hg-Ni-Pb concentrations in soils adjacent to anthropogenic point sources: examples from four Canadian sites; Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, Vol. 2 2002, pp. 57-74.

Conference abstracts

Bonham-Carter, G.F. and McMartin, I.

1997: Calculations on metals in humus around the base metal smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; Program with abstracts, IAMG'97 (Third Annual Conference of International Association for Mathematical Geology), Barcelona, Spain, September 21-24 (talk). 1997: Mass-balance study of the Flin Flon smelter emissions: calculations on metals in humus in the Flin Flon-Snow Lake region, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; Program with abstracts, 4th International Symposium on Environmental Geochemistry, Vail, Colorado, p. 13 (poster)

Henderson, P. J. and McMartin, I.

1994: Mercury distribution in humus and surficial sediments in the vicinity of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, Program with Abstracts, July 1994, Whistler (poster).

Henderson P.J., McMartin, I., Nielsen, E. and Hall, G.

1995: Heavy metal distribution in humus and surficial sediments in the vicinity of a smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba; Geological Survey of Canada GSC Forum 95, Program with Abstracts, Ottawa (poster).

Henderson, P.J., McMartin, I., Hall, G.E.M., Walker, D., and Percival, J.B.

1996: Distribution of heavy metals in humus and till samples in the vicinity of the smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba; Program with abstracts, Vol. 21, GAC-MAC, Winnipeg '96, p. A-43 (poster).

McMartin, I. and P.J. Henderson

1996: Heavy metal distribution in humus and surficial sediments in the vicinity of a Canadian smelter; Technical workshop on the technical feasibility of predicting the deposition pattern and distinguishing characteristics of Canadian base metal smelter emissions, Carleton University, May 2-3, 1996 (talk).

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., Hall, G.E.M., Walker, D., and Percival, J.B.

1996: Residence sites of mercury in humus and till near a smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada; Fourth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant; Book of Abstracts, Hamburg, August 4-8, p. 332 (poster).

McMartin, I. and Henderson, P.J.

1997: Distribution of trace metals in soils near the base metal smelter at Flin Flon, Manitoba: natural and anthropogenic enrichments from a remote single point source area; Program with abstracts, 4th International Symposium on Environmental Geochemistry, Vail, Colorado, p. 63 (talk).

McMartin, I., Henderson, P.J., and Nielsen, E.

1997: Glacial and environmental geology of the Flin Flon region: an overview of results from the NATMAP Shield Margin Project; Program, Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention '97, Winnipeg, November 1997 (talk).

Sim, B.L., Agterberg, F.P., Beaudry, C., Bonham-Carter, G.F., and McMartin, I.

1997: Determining the cutoff between background and relative base metal contamination levels using multi-fractal methods; Program with abstracts, IAMG'97 (Third Annual Conference of International Association for Mathematical Geology), Barcelona, Spain, September 21-24 (poster).

Other publications - Surficial geology of the Shield Margin area

Boucher, R.

1994: Caractérisation des tills de la région de Cormorant Lake, Manitoba; thèse de baccalauréat non- publiée, Avril 1994, Université du Québec à Montréal, 46 pages.

Campbell, J.E. and Henderson, P.J.

1996: Surficial geology of the Amisk Lake area (NTS 63L/9 and parts of 63K/12); Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3314, 1 sheet, scale 1:50 000.

Campbell, J.E., McMartin, I. and Millard, M.

1997: Surficial geology, Sturgeon-Weir River area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63L/10, L/15); Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3485, scale 1:100 000.

Campbell, J.E., Millard, M. and McMartin, I.

1998: Surficial geology, Attitti Lake area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63M/1, M/2); Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3565, scale 1:100 000.

Henderson, P.J.

1995: Surficial geology and drift composition of the Annabel Lake-Amisk Lake area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63L/9, L/16 and part of 63K/12 and K/13), Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3026, 201 p. 1995: Summary report on the surficial geology and drift composition in the Annabel Lake-Amisk Lake area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63L/9 and 16, and part of 63K/12 and 13), in D.G. Richardson (ed.), Investigations completed by the Saskatchewan Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada under the Geoscience Program of the Canada-Saskatchewan Partnership Agreement on Mineral Development (1990-1995), Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3119, p.121-130.

Henderson, P.J. and Campbell, J.E.

1992: Quaternary studies in the Annabel Lake-Amisk Lake area (NTS Areas 63L-9 and -16, and Part of 63K-12 and -13); in Summary of Investigations 1992, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask. Energy and Mines, Misc. Rep. 92-4, p. 172-176. 1994: Surficial geology investigations related to drift prospecting in the Annabel Lake-Amisk Lake area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63L/9 and L/16 and part of 63K/12 and K/13); in Summary of Investigations 1994, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask. Energy and Mines, Misc. Rep. 94-4, p. 75-78.

Henderson, P.J. and Roy, M.

1995: Distribution and character of gold in surface till in the Flin Flon greenstone belt, Saskatchewan; in Current Research 1995-E, Geological Survey of Canada, p. 175-186.

McMartin, I.

1993: Surficial Geology of the Talbot Lake area, Manitoba (NTS 63J3 to J6); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 2744, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1993: Highlights of Quaternary geology investigations in the Cormorant Lake area (NTS 63K); in Manitoba Energy and Mines, Report of Activities, 1993, p. 123-124. 1994: Surficial geology of the Mitishto River area, Manitoba (NTS 63J11, J12, J14); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 2835, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1994: Ice flow events in the Cormorant Lake - Wekusko Lake area, Northern Manitoba; in Current Research, Part C, Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 1994-C, p. 175-182. 1994: Surficial geology investigations in the Athapapuskow Lake area (Parts of NTS 63K/11 and K/12); in Manitoba Energy and Mines, Report of Activities, 1994, p.65-67. 1996: Lake Agassiz beaches and reconstruction of lower lake levels in the Shield Margin area, northwest of Lake Winnipeg; in Lake Winnipeg Project: Cruise Report and Scientific Results, B.J. Todd, M. Lewis, L.H. Thorleifson, and E. Nielsen, eds., Geological Survey of Canada, Open File Report 3113, p. 403-420. 1997: Surficial geology, Wuskatasko River area, Manitoba (NTS 63O/3,O/4); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3324, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1997: Surficial geology, Rocky Lake area, Manitoba and Saskatchewan (NTS 63K/3,K/4,K/5,K/6); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3342, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1997: Surficial geology, Reed Lake area, Manitoba and Saskatchewan (NTS 63K/9,K/10); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3406, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1998: Surficial geology, Athapapuskow Lake area, Manitoba (NTS 63K/11,K/12); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3526, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000. 1999: Surficial geology, Hargrave Lake area, Manitoba; Geological Survey of Canada A-Series Map, 1954A, 1:100 000 scale. 2000: Quaternary geology and Environmental geochemistry of the Flin Flon region; Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Carleton University, 289 p. 2000: Additional radiocarbon dates from the Minago River channel area; in 1996 Lake Winnipeg Project: Cruise Report and Scientific Results, B.J. Todd, C.F.M. Lewis, D.L. Forbes, and L.H. Thorleifson (eds.), Geological Survey of Canada, Open File Report 3470, p. 355-360. In press: Paleogeography of Lake Agassiz in the Flin Flon region, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and regional post-glacial tilt history. Journal of Paleolimnology.

McMartin, I. and Boucher, R.

1995: Surficial geology of the North Moose Lake Area, Manitoba (NTS 63/K1,K2,K7,K8); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3060, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000.

McMartin, I. and Campbell, J.E.

1994: Highlights of Quaternary geology investigations in the Sturgeon-Weir River area near Flin Flon; in Summary of Investigations 1994, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask. Energy and Mines, Misc. Rep. 92-4, p. 137- 140.

McMartin, I., Campbell, J.E., and Boucher, R.

1995: Surficial geology, Cumberland Lake area, Saskatchewan (NTS 63L/1,2,7,8); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3100, 1 sheet, scale 1:100 000.

McMartin, I. and Pringle, G.

1994: Regional kimberlite indicator mineral data and till geochemistry from the Wekusko Lake area, north-central Manitoba; Geological Survey of Canada Open File Report 2844, 75p.

Nielsen, E.

1992: Surficial geology mapping and glacial dispersion studies as aids to geochemical exploration and mineral tracing in the Elbow Lake area (NTS 63K/15); in Manitoba Energy and Mines, Report of Activities, 1992, p. 52-55. 1993: Surficial geology and till geochemical sampling in the Naosap Lake area (63K/14); in Manitoba Energy and Mines, Report of Activities, 1993, p. 47-49. 1994: Highlights of surficial geology and till geochemical sampling in the Flin Flon area (NTS 63K/13); in Manitoba Energy and Mines, Report of Activities 1994, Manitoba Energy and Mines, p. 81-82.

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