Fight for secrecy of documents The Horne Foundry abdicates

Fight for secrecy of documents | The Horne Foundry abdicates –

The Horne Foundry in Rouyn-Noranda is capitulating in its fight to prevent the disclosure of documents showing the toxic content of the materials it receives from its supplier customers.

Published at 12:49 am. Updated at 05:00.


The company, part of the Anglo-Swiss multinational Glencore, will not appeal the ruling of the Quebec Court of Justice, which in December upheld the decision of the Quebec Commission d'access à l'information (CAI) that obliged it to publish these documents . La Presse has learned.

The case arose at the request of a citizen, Marc Nantel, member of the Regroupement Vigilance Mines de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue (REVIMAT), who wanted to know what quantities and concentrations of copper concentrates were delivered to the Horne foundry. in arsenic, bismuth, antimony, lead, cadmium and mercury.

This information was provided to it by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) until 2018, but the Horne Foundry declined to disclose it in 2019 – the ministry then submitted the 2020 data.

The 2019 and 2021 data were provided to Mr. Nantel by the MELCCFP on January 19, following the resignation of Glencore.

Arsenic is traceable to a minority of suppliers

Most of the arsenic entering the Horne Foundry, some of which is released into the city's air when the concentrates are processed, comes, as in the past, from a minority of suppliers who cannot be identified, such as the Data from La Presse shows can advise.

In 2021, a single supplier was responsible for 19% of all arsenic delivered to the smelter during the year, while its materials accounted for only 0.2% of total inputs.

In 2019, 69% of the arsenic entering the smelter came from three suppliers, whose materials accounted for only 2.6% of the total input.

But the interest in these data goes far beyond this simple observation; They enable a concrete assessment of the effectiveness of the processes implemented by the foundry to reduce pollutant emissions into the air, explains Marc Nantel.

The idea is to monitor the company's performance and hold it accountable if it fails to meet its obligations. [de réduire ses émissions].

Marc Nantel, member of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Mines Vigilance Group (REVIMAT)

It is also in the company's interest to disclose this information to demonstrate that the measures taken are working, says Mr Nantel.

“But it is certain that if this is not the case, I understand that they do not want it [le faire] “, he says, assuring that he intends to request this data every year after the court decides that it must be made public.

The foundry received a lecture from the judge

Marc Nantel is pleased to have won his case, but regrets that it took “three years to produce documents that are clearly in the public domain.”

Judge Serge Champoux also criticized the Horne Foundry in his December ruling, writing that information transmitted after “endless procedures” loses relevance and estimates that “the mere passage of time amounts to a denial of access.”

The multinational Glencore has spent “several hundred thousand dollars” in legal fees to avoid publishing these two-page data, adds Marc Nantel, who in turn benefited from the support of the coalition Pour que le Québec a Meilleur Mine and the Quebec Environmental Law Center (CQDE).

If I had had to pay lawyers to defend myself, I would never have been able to do so, that's for sure.

Marc Nantel, member of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Mines Vigilance Group (REVIMAT)

The case will have a positive impact on access to information, believes lawyer Marc Bishai of the CQDE, who represented Marc Nantel in the Quebec court.

“This is a decision that could certainly be relied upon in future cases,” he said, noting that it noted the importance of obtaining the requested information quickly and that exceptions to the right of access to the information were “quite significant Restrictions”.

“This is a huge civic victory for access to environmental information,” added Mr Marc Bishai.

The Horne Foundry confirmed to La Presse that it would not appeal the ruling handed down in December.

“We will comply with the court’s decision,” said company spokeswoman Cindy Caouette, reiterating the reasons for the original objection.

“Information on our submissions is very sensitive,” she said. We therefore have a duty to protect our industrial intellectual property so as not to jeopardize our competitiveness. »

The story so far

June 2020

Marc Nantel is asking the Quebec Ministry of the Environment for data on the inputs supplied to the Horne Foundry and their concentration of pollutants for 2019.

August 2022

The Access to Information Commission hears Marc Nantel's challenge to Fonderie Horne's objection to data disclosure.

December 2023

The Quebec court upholds the Access to Information Commission's decision that required the foundry to publish its data.

January 2024

Marc Nantel receives the data following Fonderie Horne's decision not to appeal the Quebec court's ruling.

Learn more

  • 681,535 Tons of concentrates received by Horne Foundry in 2019

    Source: Horne Foundry

    659,129 Tons of concentrates received by Horne Foundry in 2021

    Source: Horne Foundry