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Acid Plant Database  November 24, 2019

Owner Noranda Income Fund - CEZinc

NIF-Logo.gif (2909 bytes)

Location 860 Boulevard Cadieu
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec
Canada  J6S 4W2
Operator Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Limited
Background Formerly
- Noranda Inc.
- Canadian Electrolytic Zinc

Glencore owns 25%
Website www.norandaincomefund.com
Plant Plant No. 1 Plant No. 2 Plant No. 3
Coordinates 45º 13' 38" N, 74º 5' 45" W 45º 13' 37" N, 74º 5' 43" W 45º 13' 37" N, 74º 5' 42" W
Type of Plant Metallurgical Metallurgical Metallurgical
Gas Source Zn
2 x 32 m2 Lurgi Roasters
72 m2 Lurgi Roasters
76 m2 Lurgi Roaster
Plant Capacity 360 MTPD
415 MTPD (1)
450 MTPD
499 MTPD (1)
520 MTPD
482 MTPD (1)
Status Operating Operating Operating
Year Built 1963 1973 1981
Technology Acadian MECS MECS
Contractor Acadian Panamerican/Acadian Simon-Carves FENCO
Remarks -
- -  
General Facility commissioned in 1963

In 1992, the Facility became the first zinc refinery in the world to obtain the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9002 certification for all steps of its zinc production process. In 1995, the ISO 9002 certification was extended to cover the Processing Facility's production of sulphuric acid. In 2003, the zinc production process and the sulphuric acid plant received ISO 9001 certification. In 2005, CEZinc earned its ISO 14001-2004 certification covering all environmental processes at the plant.
Noranda Income Fund is an income trust whose units trade on the TSX under the symbol "NIF.UN". The Fund owns the CEZinc processing facility ("the Processing Facility") located in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec. CEZinc is the second-largest zinc processing facility in North America and the largest zinc processing facility on the Eastern Seaboard, where the majority of its customers are located. Zinc concentrate is supplied to the Processing Facility by Xstrata (Falconbridge) under an agreement that will last until 2017. The Fund is paid a processing fee for refining the zinc, and it earns additional revenue through zinc metal premiums, byproduct credits and metal recovery gains.

Noranda Income Fund is an income trust whose units trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "NIF.UN".  The Noranda Income Fund owns the CEZinc processing facility and ancillary assets (the "CEZinc processing facility") located in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec.  The CEZinc processing facility is the second-largest zinc processing facility in North America and the largest zinc processing facility in eastern North America, where the majority of its customers are located.   It produces refined zinc metal and various by-products from zinc concentrates purchased from mining operations.  The Processing Facility is operated and managed by Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Limited.

References (1) Rosato, L., Monteith, G. and Centomo, L., "Overview of the Operations of Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Limited", Lead & Zinc ’05, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Lead and Zinc Processing, Kyoto, Japan, October 17-19, 2005, Volume – I, pp. 227-236.
News November 23, 2019 - Mining giant Glencore is facing a lawsuit in the UK over an acid rain cloud that belched out from a zinc refinery over homes in Quebec.  A non-profit group claiming to represent 35,000 people is seeking damages of £4,566 each over the incident in 2004 when an acid pump failed at the Canadian Electrolytic Zinc Limited (CEZL) refinery in the city of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, southwestern Quebec.  The group, Environment and Justice, claims residents were left with irritated skin and difficulty breathing after sulphur trioxide released from a 250-ft high (76-metre high) chimney created a cloud of sulphuric acid which wafted eastwards, hovering a few hundred feet over towns for dozens of miles.

January 19, 2018 -
Noranda Income Fund provides an update to the market on the work towards returning to normal operating capacity following the ratification of the new collective agreement on December 1, 2017.All active unionized employees returned to work at the processing facility in December 2017. As of the end of December, all equipment that had been idled since February 2017 has been restarted. By the end of January 2018, the Fund’s Manager expects to have completed the ramp up of the processing facility’s operation to normal operating capacity.Once the processing facility has achieved its normal operating rate, and assuming full supply of zinc concentrate, the Fund should be able to produce between 250,000 and 260,000 tonnes of zinc from the treatment of concentrate feeds as well as processing the 20,000 tonnes of Glencore Canada-owned cathode in 2018. As disclosed in November 2017, the Fund sold 20,000 tonnes of zinc cathode to Glencore Canada. It is expected that this material will be tolled by the processing facility. In exchange, the Fund will receive a tolling fee.The Fund, through its Independent Committee and their advisors, is currently negotiating with Glencore Canada and anticipates reaching a satisfactory agreement regarding the supply of zinc concentrate following the end of the current concentrate agreement on April 30, 2018.

October 3, 2017
- Noranda Income Fund is disappointed that unionized workers rejected its latest contract offer at its zinc processing facility in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, the company said Tuesday.  Workers at the plant affiliated with the United Steelworkers of America (Metallos) have been on strike since February 12 in a dispute the union says was prompted by the company's demand for concessions on the existing pension plan and refusal to consider other options to cut costs and increase productivity.  The union is also calling for greater transparency over NIF's concentrate supply and zinc offtake deal with Switzerland-based commodities group Glencore.  Glencore is the largest shareholder of NIF; the company supplies all of the concentrate processed at the refinery and is the sole purchaser of the finished product.  NIF said it presented an offer to the union on September 26. At a membership vote on Monday, workers rejected the offer by a "large majority," it said.  The union said the 371 striking workers at CEZinc had rejected the company's offer by a 97% majority.  "We are disappointed that our employee bargaining unit rejected what we believe to be a fair offer," said Eva Carissimi, president and CEO of Canadian Electrolytic Zinc. "Our offer included improvements in pension rate, early retirement for close to 100 employees over the next five years, as well as wage increases."  But the union said the latest NIF offer was little changed from the one it rejected previously.  "Eight months into the strike, Noranda Income Fund offered its employees more or less the same contract that provoked the strike in the first place," said Luc Julien, a staff representative with the United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Metallos.  "Our members have sent a clear message to the Fund's board of directors -- its offer was unacceptable in February and it is no more acceptable after eight months on the picket line," Julien said.  Carissimi said NIF has been focusing its efforts on reducing costs and improving productivity given a change in its concentrate supply agreement which means it is now paying market rates for its feed.  "The company has been able to achieve reductions in energy, supplies and services and is seeking to contain future labor cost increases by asking employees to contribute to preserving their defined benefit plan and through changes to the early retirement programs," she said.  Union representative Julien said NIF's board and Glencore officials "must get involved and put some pressure on these managers to change their approach".  "Our members remain as serious and committed as they were eight months ago when they began this strike. Glencore and the Noranda Income Fund board should ensure that their negotiators are serious about reaching a settlement." With the strike unresolved, NIF said it was continuing to operate the facility with eligible staff. 
Zinc metal production for the six months ended June 30 was 100,569 mt, down 27% year on year.

Februry 13, 2017
- Employees of the CEZinc. refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., co-owned by Noranda Income Fund and Glencore, began a strike Sunday in response to the company's demands for major concessions.The 371 members of United Steelworkers Local 6486 say the strike was provoked by company demands such as major pension concessions, despite the fact their pension plan is over-funded, with a 114% funding ratio. The company also has steadfastly refused to explore cost-cutting alternatives in the plant's operation, the union says."This employer, Noranda Income Fund, has deliberately pushed us toward a labour dispute," said Steelworkers staff representative Luc Julien."They demand major concessions in the pension plan without being able to demonstrate any serious problems in the plant. And when we propose working together to find operational savings and efficiencies, they don't even want to hear about it," Julien said."We've been more than reasonable throughout the negotiations, but the employer isn't interested in our proposals. They want a blank cheque for concessions," said Steelworkers Local 6486 President Manon Castonguay."On one hand Noranda Income Fund is making demands for serious concessions and on the other hand it refuses to put its cards on the table regarding the contracts it has negotiated with Glencore," Castonguay said."Our plant is competitive, it has highly qualified workers and we've set new production records. We're not going to accept concessions just to please a greedy employer."Noranda Income Fund has failed to demonstrate any financial troubles and it has refused to divulge the terms of its zinc concentrate supply contract with Glencore and the production contract it also has with Glencore, the union says.

May 24, 2012 - At least 180,000 people who say they suffered symptoms when a cloud of sulphur trioxide gas swept over the western part of Montreal island on a summer night back in 2004 have joined a class-action suit against the zinc production facility that released the toxic gas.  Zinc électrolytique du Canada Ltée, a zinc processing plant in Salaberry de Valleyfield located just southwest of Montreal Island, produces zinc ingots for use in car manufacturing and construction. It is one of the largest zinc processing facilities in the world.  At about 9:30 p.m. on August 9, 2004, a piece of equipment at the plant broke, and a 5.95-tonne cloud of sulphur trioxide gas was released from a 180-foot high chimney. Experts have since determined that the cloud would have moved northeast that night sweeping over Ile Perrot around 11:14, and all the way to Ville Saint Laurent by about ten minutes after midnight.  Sulphur trioxide gas is one of the ingredients in acid rain. When inhaled at very high concentrations, it can cause death. At lower concentrations it can cause respiratory difficulty, asthma attacks, irritation of eyes, throat and airway, skin rash and cough.  According to a spokesperson for Zinc électrolytique du Canada Ltée, in the hours after the release, company officials contacted firefighters, as well as officials at Quebec environment department and Environment Canada.  But the company admits it did not contact Urgence Environnement, the Quebec environment department’s environmental emergency service, which it was obliged to do by law. Urgence environnement takes steps to ensure the public is informed immediately of environmental hazards.  “We had misinterpreted the law which was only nine months old at the time,” said Jean-François Gagnon, the company’s human resources manager.  In the days and weeks following the release, some residents of the communities affected tried to figure out what had happened.

“I received dozens of calls at the time from people wondering what had happened because they could smell sulphur, which has a distinct odour, like rotting eggs,” said André Bélisle, of the anti-air pollution group Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique.  He said that at the time of inhalation, many people he spoke to were terrified because they had trouble breathing, and some thought they were going to die.  Some of those affected decided to consult lawyers and organize a class-action suit. Their first attempt was rejected by the courts, partly because the geographical areas from which victims could claim were not well defined.  But after Environment Canada completed a three-year investigation of the accident, which provided more information, the victims tried again. In March, Quebec Superior Court Judge Chantal Masse authorized the class-action suit.  “This is the first time a class-action suit has been authorized for a toxic release in Canada,” said Chantal Desjardins, the lawyer representing the class action claimants.  “It is important the company take responsibility for this,” she said. “We can’t have companies with no social or environmental conscience getting away with (toxic) releases like this. It is people’s safety we are talking about here.”  Anyone who was in the areas defined in the suit, which are precisely defined on the class-action suit website (chantaldesjardins.com) and who experienced symptoms of exposure to sulphur trioxide is automatically a member of the suit.  The claimants are demanding $5,000 per victim for “bodily insecurity, trouble, nuisance and inconvenience”, plus another $5,000 for exemplary and punitive damages. Those who suffered asthma attacks are claiming an additional $5,000.  Gagnon said those claims are exaggerated and the company “will vigorously contest them”.  “There are 180,000 people so far demanding at least $5,000 each, which is an astronomical sum. We think the claims are exaggerated and that very few people were actually affected, and not very seriously.”  He noted the company was not fined by Environment Canada after its investigation, and has taken measures to improve its equipment to prevent another leak. It has also cooperated with other industries in Salaberry de Valleyfield to improve emergency response procedures in case of another industrial accident in the community.  “Accidents will happen but what matters is how you react to them. We understand that this could have been much worse if the winds had been moving more toward the residential areas nearer to the plant, but we learned from it.”  Zinc électrolytique du Canada Ltéé, (also called CEZinc.) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xstrata Canada Corporation. The Noranda Income Fund acquired the assets of the company in 2002 and operates it as an income trust. Xstrata holds 25 per cent of the units of the fund, manages the company and provides the zinc concentrate for the operations.

March 20, 2012 - The Superior Court of the district of Montréal has authorized the bringing of the largest environmental class action in Canada's history. The court attributed the status of representative to François Deraspe to act on behalf of all the persons who on the evening of August 9, 2004 had burning eyes, throat ailments, airways ailments, respiratory ailments, skin rashes, cough, or who suffered an asthma attack simultaneously with their exposure to the toxic cloud released by the plant that Canadian Electrolytic Zinc operates in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec.
The toxic cloud released by the plant was made up of sulphur trioxide which is a hazardous substance that transforms itself into sulfuric acid vapor when it comes into contact with air and remains airborne for hours and can be carried by the wind over dozens of kilometers while maintaining its toxicity.
In 2006, Canadian Electrolytic Zinc was acquired by Xstrata which is the fourth largest diversified mining company in the world with operating profit of nearly 7.7 billion dollars in 2011.
Mr. Deraspe will ask the court to condemn the company to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 to each member of the group depending on the prejudice suffered as well as exemplary damages of $5,000. No medical proof is required to make a claim.
Although the authorization to bring a class action amounts to no more than a procedure that allows a representative to file a lawsuit on behalf of a group of persons and does not prejudge in any way the outcome of the trial to come, the attorney for the company told the court, of his own volition, that his client would have no defense to offer at trial should the authorization be granted and that it had been estimated that the lawsuit could cost his client up to 900 million dollars.
On the evening of the release the wind blew from West to North East at a speed of 17 kilometers per hour resulting in the exposure of all or part of the municipalities and boroughs of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, St-Thimothée, Melocheville, Ïle Perrot, Beaconsfield, Dorval, Lachine, Pierrefonds, and Kirkland to the toxic cloud. Mr. Deraspe will apply to the court in the coming days to add to that list the municipalities and boroughs of St-Laurent, Côte-St-Luc, Ahunstic-Cartierville, Mont-Royal, Hampstead, Côte-des-Neiges, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce; Outremont, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie; Villeray-St-Michel-Parc-Extension; Montréal-Nord, Laval-des-Rapides and Chomedey.
In June of 2006, following a report by Environment Canada that absolved the company of any misdeeds after an investigation that took all of twenty minutes, Mr. Deraspe served a formal notice to the Canadian Environment Minister to have an investigation ordered pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The report of investigation, which rests partly on the taped testimonies of fifteen employees of the company, was made public in July of 2009. In a letter to Environment Canada, the company fully agreed with the factual conclusions of the report which unequivocally states that the release was toxic and that the company failed to call the emergency services.
One can learn from the report that the release was not accidental, contrary to what the company had claimed in a written report handed over to Environment Canada in August of 2004.
The report affirms that the company delayed for several days the replacement of a pump that showed extensive wear. The company kept the pump running even as a perforation was detected on it 12 hours before the release happened in spite of the unacceptable risk that it represented for the population and the environment, in the words of Environment Canada's expert.
The pump broke down 12 hours later on the evening of August 9, 2004, at which time the sulphur trioxide started to be released in the atmosphere through an 80 meters high smokestack instead of being pumped into the sulphuric acid tanks. The plant should then have been shut down at once to keep the release to a maximum of 280 kilos as reported by the company's employees to Environment Canada.
As stated in the report, instead of stopping the plant immediately, the employees of the company tinkered with the pump for a good 20 minutes during which the toxic gas was being released in the environment. Realizing that their efforts were pointless, they finally decided to stop the plant, not without having released approximately 10 tons of toxic gas in the environment as the foreman and the chief environment of the company told the firefighters and Environment Canada.
The company not only failed to call the emergency services at the time of the release, odd as it may seem, it is 911 which, overwhelmed with calls from citizens complaining about the toxic cloud, called the company to find out if they had anything to do with the release. They were told that a "small problem" had occurred, as stated in the Fire Department report.
The firefighters, alerted by citizens, had to go the plant of the company, more than 90 minutes after the beginning of the release, to see for themselves how "small" the problem was. Once on the premises, they learnt that a toxic cloud of 10 tons of sulphur trioxide had been released in the environment from an 80 meters high smokestack while the wind was blowing at 17 km/h towards densely populated areas. The firefighters ordered the triggering of the company's emergency plan.
On that warm summer evening, the company's recklessness not only exposed hundreds of thousands of citizens to the harmful effects of a toxic cloud in the quiet of their homes, but its pretense worsened their predicament by preventing them from taking simple protective measures like remaining inside, closing the doors, windows and vents, and shutting down any system that draws air from the outside.
Mrs. Chantal Desjardins, the attorney for Mr. Deraspe, said that she was very pleased with the authorization since the class action is the only means that the citizens have to protect their environment and assert their rights. She said that she hoped that the company will assume responsibility since it has no defense whatsoever to oppose to the class action. Indeed, in May of 2010, in a last-ditch attempt to derail the class action, the company filed a motion to have it dismissed on the grounds that the courts had already ruled on that matter. The Superior Court of Québec denied the motion in December of 2010 and its ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal in February of 2011. The application filed by the company for leave to appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada in September of 2011.

September 28, 2009 - The Noranda Income Fund (TSX:NIF.UN) expects to return sulphuric acid processing in Valleyfield, Que., to full capacity by the beginning of October but says investors will have to wait longer to get regular monthly payouts.  Noranda had taken about 20 per cent of the capacity at its Valleyfield zinc smelter off line last winter after a slowdown in the global economy had created a glut in sulphuric acid produced at the same plant as a byproduct.  The acid is used in a variety of industrial and mining processes.  The fund says it has been notified by Xstrata Canada, its sales agent for sulphuric acid, that market conditions have improved enough to restore the idled smelter capacity.  But Noranda says it won't restore suspended monthly distributions at this time because it still faces low margins for zinc and sulphuric acid, a high Canadian dollar and a debt level that may have put it in breach of its agreements.  Noranda stopped paying monthly distributions to ordinary unitholders in February and suspended the cash payouts to priority unitholders in July.

May 20, 2009 - The Noranda Income Fund (the "Fund") (TSX:NIF.UN) announced today its monthly distribution for the month of May 2009 of $0.04 per unit. The distribution will be payable on June 25, 2009 to Priority Unitholders of record at the close of business on May 31, 2009.  In February, the Fund had received notice from its sales agent, Xstrata Canada Corporation that it was unable to arrange for sales and/or temporary storage for sulphuric acid in quantities equal to the normal rate of production due to weak demand. As a result, since the beginning of March, production of sulphuric acid and zinc has been reduced by approximately 20% from 2008 levels. This reduced production level will continue for the month of June.  The reduction in production will negatively impact the Fund's profitability and cash flow. The Fund is unable to predict with any certainty the expected duration of weak demand for sulphuric acid.

March 26, 2009 - The Noranda Income Fund (the "Fund") (TSX:NIF.UN) announced today that it is temporarily cutting roughly 45 jobs, or 10% of its hourly workers, as a result of a 20% reduction in throughput at the zinc plant in Valleyfield.  On February 23, 2009, the Fund announced a 20% reduction to sulphuric acid and zinc production for the month of March in response to weakness in the sulphuric acid market. The Fund subsequently announced a continuation of the reduction for the month of April.  The duration of the layoff has not been determined and is dependent upon the Fund's ability to return production to full capacity.

February 23, 2009 - DBRS has today noted Noranda Income Fund’s recent announcement that March 2009 production of zinc will be reduced by approximately 20% in response to the continuing inability to find sales and/or additional storage for byproduct sulphuric acid in sufficient quantities to allow full production. DBRS believes that the production curtailment should be of short duration and has maintained the STA-3 (high) rating of Noranda Income Fund (the Fund) and the BBB (high) rating of the Senior Secured Notes of its wholly-owned Noranda Operating Trust (the Trust) Under Review with Negative Implications.

February 10, 2009 - The Noranda Income Fund reported today that it is experiencing a significant drop in sulphuric acid demand.  Sulphuric acid sales have slowed dramatically since early January because of the sharp drop in industrial activity. In addition to reduced demand for their products, sulphuric acid customers in the US have seen their competitiveness reduced by the stronger US dollar. These factors have resulted in a drop in sulphuric acid orders as customers have cut production to reduce product inventories.  The Fund's annual production of sulphuric acid, a byproduct of zinc refining, is approximately 400,000 tonnes. The Fund sells sulphuric acid through an agency agreement with Xstrata Canada Corporation ("Xstrata Canada").  The production of zinc and sulphuric acid is linked. Should the demand for sulphuric acid not improve, the lack of storage tank capacity may impact the Fund's ability to produce zinc. In an effort to alleviate the problem, Xstrata Canada is pursuing increased contractual and spot sales, including sales into the international vessel market and investigating alternative storage options.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth