Effluents and waste

EN22 Water discharge

Discharges to water derive from dams and tailings ponds at the mines, and from water treatment plants and collection of surface water at smelters and mines. Boliden’s smelters account for approximately 72% of metal discharges to water while the mines account for the remaining 28%. Boliden mines account for 85% of the Group’s nitrogen discharges with the nitrogen generated mainly from the use of explosives and their handling. The remaining 15% comes mainly from wastewater recycling at the Kokkola smelter.

Ensuring efficient and stable operations at water treatment plants and re-circulating the process water as much as possible are important parts of reducing discharges to water. Boliden’s operations include purifying process water as well as a significant amount of the rainwater that falls within the industrial areas. In recent years, there has been heavy rainfall, underlining the need for increasing the water treatment capacity, and several of Boliden’s operations have consequently implemented measures to meet this need.

The way in which Boliden manages nitrogen discharges to water will be particularly important in the years ahead. The ongoing expansion projects can result in marked increases in the mines’ nitrogen discharges (by up to an estimated 45%) by 2018. A specific nitrogen action plan will be drawn up and the management and monitoring of water consumption will be improved through the establishment of a dedicated Water Management Plan that will apply to all units.

Once the water cleaning process is completed, the smelters discharge their water to the sea while the mines discharge the water into rivers and lakes. The water discharged to recipients is monitored to ensure that levels of pollutants are within the quality standards stipulated in the environmental permit. Accredited laboratories, both internal and external, are used for analyses of samples taken on site. No discharges are made into wetlands, ground water or municipal treatment plants. Volumes are based on flow meters.

Water discharge




Metal discharges to water, t (me-eq)




Metal discharges to water, t (mass)




Nitrogen /N-tot/ to water (tonnes)




To wetland
(million cubic metres)




To inland surface water
(million cubic metres)




To sea surface water
(million cubic metres)




To municipal treatment plants
(million cubic metres)




Discharged water volume
(million cubic metres)




EN23 Total waste by type and disposal method

Boliden handles considerable amounts of waste materials. These waste materials mainly comprise various types of dust and slag, tailings, rock, and other mineral formations. Boliden has developed processes to extract as much value as possible out of the material streams at mines and smelters. There are virtually no materials left that can be reused, composted, or incinerated. Boliden chooses, therefore, to report the waste types in a manner that differs from that indicated in the GRI guidelines. Hazardous waste is sent for disposal or stabilisation, in some cases to landfill and deep repository. The increasing amounts of waste rock in 2016 can be derived from the addition of the Kevitsa mine, a large-scale open pit operation, similar to the Aitik mine.

Waste by type and

disposal method (tonnes)




Hazardous waste, total




Whereof to external use, treatment, or recovery




Whereof to external disposal




Non-hazardous waste, total




Whereof to external use, treatment, or recovery




Whereof to external disposal




Waste rock, total




Waste rock for internal construction




Storage of waste rock for future use




Sold waste rock




Tailings total




Tailings for internal constitution




MM3 Waste types and disposal methods including overburden, rock, tailings and sludge, and their ­associated risks

Boliden processes a number of different metals and substances that are both toxic and environmentally harmful. The mining and smelting operations generate residual waste consisting of waste rock, tailings, slag, sludge and dust. EU waste legislation currently has a strategic approach that views waste as a resource and deposition as the last option (Waste Framework Directive, 2008/98/EC). There is already considerable awareness of the importance of waste issues within the Boliden Group: e.g. waste sorting, significant recycling of process residues and scrap, good reporting procedures and ongoing waste projects. The majority of Boliden’s process and mining wastes are sent to landfills in accordance with the EU Landfill of Waste Directive (1999/31/EC) and the Mining Waste Directive (2006/21/EC). The remainder is used as construction material or as filler material. Waste rock tips are covered continuously, wherever possible, in order to prevent weathering or leaching. Boliden’s mine waste is generally handled in accordance with applicable environmental permits that specify how and where it may be stored and how it shall be covered and reclaimed.

Extensive monitoring programmes are in place to ensure a high level of dam safety and several measures to increase dam safety have been finalised or are in progress. Boliden is responsible for around 40 dam facilities in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland and Canada. They are used or have been used to deposit tailings sand or other waste and for water management. This figure includes both operational and decommissioned facilities. Dam facilities are managed according to GruvRIDAS (mining industry guidelines for dam safety).

Correctly processed waste can be turned into valuable products. What is considered waste for one operation can often constitute a raw material for another. Approximately 45% of the process residues generated are sent to another Boliden site for metals recovery or final deposition. Appropriately handled, the trade in waste and by-products can be of benefit to society by increasing overall resource efficiency. Boliden works continuously to identify internal and external recycling or landfill solutions for any process wastes generated. Boliden receives significant amounts of waste from external parties for recycling, construction purposes or safe deposition in landfills.

The export of waste to landfill or for recycling is extensively regulated. Boliden has also developed procedures for monitoring and following up on the receiving party’s processing operations to ensure that their waste processing is acceptable from a health and environmental viewpoint.

The secondary raw materials to Boliden smelters, i.e. electronic scrap and waste batteries, contain plastics that are incinerated in the process. The incineration of the plastics has two purposes: it serves as a reducing agent in order to produce the metal and it also generates heat that is necessary for the process. The excess heat from the process is used for district heating.

Volumes are mainly based on loaded weight. Waste rock tonnage is based on calculations of volume and density. Tailings are based on calculations of tonnage of ore minus tonnage of concentrate output.

There are no statistics available for overburden as it is seldom that any overburden exists, and what constitutes a insignificant volume of waste is not defined. Metal-bearing sludge is not considered waste, but rather is reused in the process. Sludge that is not reused in the process accounts for an insignificant percentage of either hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste, depending on its properties.

Some waste is sent for final storage in underground facilities. Tailings are, for example, used as back-fill wherever this is possible, both as re-inforcement and to reduce the amount of tailings above ground. Odda stores jarosite and slag in mountain caverns. Rönnskär is in the process of completing underground disposal facilities for arsenic-bearing waste.

Boliden has no organic waste material that is suitable for composting, other than small amounts from canteens, which are sent for municipal treatment.

Boliden does not practise deep well injection or waste incineration.

EN24 Significant spills

A total of 28 (14) larger oil and/or diesel spills i.e. more than 150 litres, were reported from Aitik, Boliden Area, Garpenberg and Kevitsa. All spills occurred within the mining area. 27 spills were immediately sanitized and any contaminated soil was excavated. One hydraulic oil spill of 150 litres in Garpenberg occurred at 750 metres depth at a location where clean-up could not be carried out in a safe way. There are oil separators in the mine, and no oil has been detected in the water leaving the mine.

These events have not entailed any significant environmental impact or caused lasting harm to the surroundings. Investigations have been conducted in conjunction with all of the incidents in order to ascertain the causes of the spills and, wherever possible, to institute measures that will prevent any repeats.