After repeated delays, work on the Giant Remediation Project should start properly on Monday, but members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation are concerned progress on the project could come to a halt.
The kickstarting of operations was first reported by Cabin Radio, after the Giant Mine Remediation Board completed its public hearings and the federal team leading the project completed its environmental assessments.
YKDFN Dettah Chief Edward Sangris said he was concerned the potential for an upcoming federal election would continue to slow down and threaten to derail progress made towards compensation and an apology for YKDFN.
“We have made more progress in the last six months on mending these historic wrongs than has been made in the last 70 years,” said Chief Edward Sangris. “However, we are growing concerned at the recent slowdown in momentum this summer.”
A pathwork to an apology and compensation had been agreed upon with the federal government in March after YKDFN met with the federal government several times, but Sangris said he is concerned about the future of that work.
The schedule for remediation work has been delayed and adjusted several times over the past couple of years.
The Giant Mine townsite, where workers used to live but has been abandoned since the mine closed, won’t be torn down until at least the summer of 2022.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ website said the townsite would be one of the first pieces of work to be started. But that timeline has been updated, according to spokesperson Natalie Plato who presented the updates to the city of Yellowknife’s governance and priorities committee.
The work that is happening involves construction of a landfill to hold waste, underground stabilization work, and the construction of the first of four freeze pads.
The focus is on freezing the 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide — a toxic substance — so that it can be contained underground and minimize contamination of the nearby lands.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article said the work happening this summer involved stabilization of Dam 1. Work on stabilization of Dam 1 was completed in December.