New program to clean up largest abandoned mines in the NWT and Yukon

Keven Dow photo.
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The Canadian government is moving forward with a long term plan starting in 2020–21 to clean up contaminated mine sites in the North.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that the federal Government’s new Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, will invest $2.2 billion over 15 years to address the remediation of the eight largest and highest-risk abandoned mine projects in the NWT and the Yukon.

These projects are the Giant, Cantung, and Great Bear Lake mines in the NWT; as well as the Faro, United Keno Hill, Mount Nansen, Ketza River, and Clinton Creek mines in the Yukon.

The Cantung tungsten mine is located in the south-west corner of the NWT, approximately 720 km west of Yellowknife. Giant mine is located only five kilometers from Yellowknife and the Great Bear Lake mines are about 250 km east of Délı̨nę.

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Bennett says that the new program will leverage expertise gained over the past 15 years of managing human and environmental health and safety risks at contaminated sites in the North.

“The new program will continue to promote new economic opportunities for Indigenous people and Northerners in large remediation projects.”

At the end of the new 15-year program, active remediation is expected to be completed at seven of the eight mine sites with Faro estimated to be completed soon after.

Bennett adds that the new program demonstrates a commitment to engage with Indigenous and Northern communities and find approaches that benefit both the environment and the economy.

“Indigenous and Northern communities must be able to meaningfully participate in and benefit from the Government of Canada’s investment in cleaning up northern contaminated sites.”

After remediation is complete, Bennett says all sites will likely require ongoing care and monitoring to ensure that remediation measures continue working as planned.

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