After 11 years and $110 million, the Tundra Mine remediation project in the Northwest Territories has cleared all remaining ore residue at the former gold mine located some 240 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
Tailings at the mine — which began operations in 1964 and ceased in the mid-1980s — have been consolidated and covered by a geomembrane liner and gravel. The Tundra Mine is one of three mines that reverted to the Government of Canada in 1999 when the owner, Royal Oak Mines Inc., went into receivership.
“This project provided important training opportunities for local community members that enabled them to participate in the local economy and manage their land,” announced Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. “With remediation and revegetation work completed, risks to health and the environment have been reduced so that Dene and Métis people can once again use the land for traditional purposes,” he added.
The federal government flew out about 20 representatives from the territorial government, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, North Slave Métis Alliance, and the Tlicho government to attend a remediation wrap-up celebration at the mine site last week.
The contract for Phase 2 of the remediation was awarded to a joint venture between Tlicho Environmental Engineering Services Ltd. and Aboriginal Engineering Ltd.
Although full remediation of the Tundra site began in 2011, officials spent more than a decade prepping the site. This work initially included dam repairs, landfill repairs, geotechnical inspections of dams, water management and water quality monitoring. Later, officials progressed to the removal of buildings and hazardous waste, construction of a non-hazardous landfill, and the capping of mine openings. Lastly, water treatment was carried out on-site to treat the water in the tailings containment area, according to federal project documents.
When full remediation kicked off, site workers treated hydrocarbon-contaminated soil, decommissioned dams at the former gold mine, and started some regrading work.
For the next five years, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will actively monitor the site through an adaptive management phase. This includes remote monitoring assisted by cameras and sensors, as well as visits to site to take samples and measurements. The project will then move into the monitoring phase.
During its life cycle, the Tundra Mine produced some 3,250 kg of gold from 187,714 tons of ore.