Safety & HCM Post

De Beers Victor Mine’s Failure to Report Mercury Risks Causes Serious Environmental Concerns

Mercury contamination from the De Beers diamond mine in northern Ontario may be much higher than the company — or the provincial government — are reporting, according to a new study by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Wildlands League.

An investigation into one of world’s highest quality producing diamond mines has found failures in self-monitoring, raising troubling concerns about entrusting the company to protect the environment in which it operates. In a report being released on the De Beers Victor Diamond mine, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Wildlands League is asking the government of Ontario to engage an independent third party to take over monitoring at the mine to restore the integrity and credibility of the program.

The mine’s activities trigger adverse impacts on the environment by stimulating mercury conversion to methylmercury. Methylmercury, a neurotoxin, is a dangerous threat to aquatic life as it biomagnifies up the food chain into top predator fish.

“Unreported data from one of the downstream stations, shows a tripling of methylmercury,” says Trevor Hesselink, Director of Policy and Research for CPAWS Wildlands League and lead author of the special report. “These increases are particularly alarming in the context of a river system in which the fish already exceed safe guidelines for eating—and Indigenous people rely on fish as a country food.”

​These findings have caused serious concerns for environmental groups.


You would expect mercury emissions to be highly regulated, but the regulation of environmental and mercury emissions can, in fact, be confusing. Below we provide an article that will tell you how mercury emissions are regulated across Canada. First, we’ll explain how federal, provincial and territorial environmental laws address mercury emissions. Then we’ll briefly explain how to comply with the mercury emission requirements. Plus, there’s a chart spelling out how each province and territory regulates mercury emissions.

How to avoid an environmental violation in your workplace.

  • Your employer should have policies in place to help protect you and the environment.You may also consider some of following procedures to avoid an environmental violation in your workplace:
  • Find out about the environmental regulations for your region. Chemical disposal, outdoor burning and recycling might be covered.
  • Co-operate with efforts at your facility to recycle all possible products. Make suggestions for better methods of collection of items if you have some ideas. Separate materials correctly; for example, put only container glass, never window glass, into the glass recycling receptacle.
  • Support the use of less harsh chemicals for cleaning and other jobs where possible. Products less harmful to the environment are also likely to be less harmful to the user—you.
  • Never dispose of chemicals down a drain or in the ground where they can find their way into water systems. Read the label and the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to find out what to do with a leftover quantity of a harmful substance.
  • Don’t put hazardous substances in with general waste headed for the incinerator or landfill.
  • Likewise, dispose of excess paint correctly, by using it for a base coat or by turning it in at a collection depot.
  • Be aware of developments in biodegradable plastics which show promise for trash bags. See if someone in purchasing can look into these options.
  • Help identify areas of energy waste so they can be corrected. Unnecessary heating and lighting costs your employer and all power consumers.
  • If you are involved in landscaping, encourage the use of plantings which require a minimum of water, fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Avoid outdoor burning because of air pollution. Particularly, do not burn materials that could produce noxious smoke, such as plastic or rubber. Also be aware that burning plants such as poison ivy can release irritants into the air.

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