Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

MESS AWAITS ATTENTION – The ball mill of the abandoned Mount Nansen gold mine is seen here, while a part of the site is seen next in 2000.

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

List of companies compiled for cleaning up old mine site

Three companies have been shortlisted for the mammoth job of reclaiming the site of the abandoned Mount Nansen gold mine.

By Chuck Tobin on December 22, 2016

Three companies have been shortlisted for the mammoth job of reclaiming the site of the abandoned Mount Nansen gold mine.

Ongoing care and maintenance of the site located west of Carmacks has cost federal taxpayers millions of dollars.

That’s in addition to the tens of millions that have been spent on engineering and designing the permanent closure plan.

Among the three is Alexco Environmental Group, a subsidiary of the Alexco Resource Corp., the parent company which holds the exploration and mining rights to the historic Keno Silver District.

Alexco Environmental is overseeing the reclamation of more than 100 years of mining in the district while its parent company continues with mining and exploration initiatives.

A numbered Yukon company, 536086 Yukon Inc., in partnership with Canadian-owned Merit Consultants International, a Canadian company that has been providing mining services around the world since 1983, has also been selected.

As well, Morgan Construction and Environmental Ltd., an oilfield construction company based in Edmonton with more than 50 years’ experience, has been shortlisted.

The intent of the reclamation proposal and closure plan approved last spring by Justice Ron Veale of the Yukon Supreme Court is to dismantle the mine site and return it as close to nature as possible.

The proposal, for instance, calls for moving the tailings from the tailings point into the open pit, removing the tailings dam and reclaiming the valley below the dam.

Documents indicate there are approximately 745,000 cubic metres of tailings, waste rock and other material to be relocated – roughly equivalent to 75,000 loads with a tandem dump truck.

There are also buildings that still need to be taken down.

The intent of the proposal is to have the successful company chosen by the end of next year, giving the three shortlisted companies several months to refine their proposals.

The history of the Mount Nansen deposit goes back decades.

Most recently, it was operated briefly in the 1990s by BYG Natural Resources.

The company went bankrupt and the federal government moved in to manage the site and continue providing water treatment.

The mine was permitted by the federal government before the Yukon government took over responsibility for mining in the Yukon on April 1, 2003.

Responsibility for the site, therefore, falls to Ottawa in the same way Ottawa is responsible for financing the Faro mine reclamation.

Since the federal government took over the site some 16 years ago, it has spent almost $3 million providing water treatment and other care and maintenance obligations.

It has also spent $28.7 million on remediation efforts. Most of the money has gone into engineering and designing the closure plan.

Ottawa’s intent is to eventually walk away from the site, though it’s expected there will be long-term monitoring of water quality.

Comments (15)

Up 0 Down 0

Ex - Yukoner! on Jan 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

Yukoners should be first employed and offered jobs for this clean up to take place!
Forget about the companies down south.

Up 0 Down 0

pro Green scientist on Dec 28, 2016 at 6:52 pm

We started with a clean green planet. If we are going back to where we started, bring it on!

Up 1 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Dec 28, 2016 at 3:58 pm

You hit the nail on the head Heather Saggers. Well done. Anyone thumbs downing you should explain exactly why otherwise they make no sense.

Up 10 Down 5

Heather Saggers on Dec 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Having been born in the Yukon, I have worked in the mining industry and at both mines mentioned in this article. I think people forget that mining regulation is relatively new, approximately 42 years old, since coming into effect the standards now make the process of opening a mine almost a ten-year ordeal and any water used has to be returned cleaner than the waters originally state. All this at the cost of employment opportunities for the average person without a degree. I own my own home and have a few toys, however these were the result of a mining job, I would never have been able to do this living on a job from McDonalds or one of the box store jobs.
The last mine I was employed at was Brewery Creek in Dawson, my employment since then has allowed me to keep these items, but just barely. UKHM (Elsa) has been in operation since 1912 and Faro mine has been in operation since 1965, in some form or another. We forget how many people have been employed and contributed to the local area. Regulation is so much stricter than when they started operations. (I also believe the damage is minimal compared to the benefits they produced overall, considering no regulation was in effect)
Times have changed, we now have multiple governments and yes, they employee people, but I don't know one government that makes money, they are in the business of spending money on the premise of the betterment of the whole. The private sector is what pays for this and yes, I know government workers pay taxes too, but not to the extent that they spend. We have to wake up and understand that all things have to be measured, I also know that most people use a product that had to be mined, yet they complain about the results. I also believe we are an evolving society and better processes can and are being developed every day. However, in the Yukon, we tend to not embrace this new technology until it has been proven, which is why environmental damage costs are so high, we would rather pour lime to a problem for eternity then take a chance on a new technology.
We are regulating ourselves right out of work, (yes I do believe we need regulation, but not to the extent that we take away all opportunity) if our governments are the representatives of the people and this is what they want, then we won’t need half the government departments we have, no mining, no need for the following departments; Energy, Mines and Resources, Environment and the many other departments such as; Land use, YESSA, Mapping, Mining inspections and etc. This goes for all First Nation Governments also. I believe everyone of these departments should have to eliminate the same number of positions on a per ratio bases to the number of positions in the mining sector, no need to monitor what doesn’t exist.
The private sector is going to eventually get fed-up and say enough is enough. Figure out how to do these things safely and allow for employment opportunities for the average person without a degree.

Up 4 Down 0

john henry on Dec 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm

MILLIONS, good god, what about the people that looked after it for a lot of years, they must be millionaires

Up 7 Down 5

Mr Pheeb on Dec 27, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Mining in the Yukon is an outrage what with the abandonments and all. Who needs this? It would be better to put all the boys on relief instead of these quagmires of disgust.

Up 7 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Dec 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Money wasted, whether through inefficiency, ineptitude or outright graft and corruption, is energy wasted and energy wasted is unwanted C02 released into our atmosphere. The Green road isn't an easy road to take. It also is a road with many forks. Always turning left will only lead you back to where you started from only to see all that energy wasted.

Up 14 Down 4

ProMining brownie on Dec 26, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Lets face it, this is what Canadian mining companies are famous for the world over.
Where's the science?

Up 21 Down 2

wundering on Dec 26, 2016 at 10:55 am

That's what's great about mining projects, once you get one started the jobs just keep coming, even after it closes.

Up 25 Down 3

Just Say'in on Dec 25, 2016 at 1:30 am

Hey it has become an industry. We will never have an economy if all are bent on milking the system for a hundred years. Stop this craziness.

Up 39 Down 1

The Middle Road on Dec 24, 2016 at 3:05 am

If this report is accurate and it has costs over $10 million to carry out a study and simply generate a closure plan then that is a disgrace. Most successful closure plans are pretty generic in nature. Sure there are local conditions but it doesn't cost +$10m to work those out.
This is a classic case of government incompetence coupled with consultants and advisors suckling greedily from the government teat of plenty.

Up 12 Down 5

Charles on Dec 23, 2016 at 1:47 pm

I used to work on that mountain as a camp cook at that time with BYG. It was a really bad company the way they operated it. Shortly after the closure of the mine on a flight to Van I heard one of the family (main share owners) that most of the money raised was invested in Dairy Farms in Ontario. The Government should find out who operated it at that time and should bill them.

Up 23 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Dec 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Actually BnR, for this project, the cost-plus scenario might be cheaper, way cheaper. That's kind of the problem.
For sure, any and all new mines should include full remediation bonds but that wasn't the case with Nansen.

We have to remember that INAC ie Ottawa, was in charge of Nansen at the time and everything was approved by them. I remember it well and it wasn't a nice story with some very strange things done by INAC. It would be nice for the whole thing to be looked at by an investigative reporter.

Bottom line though, is that sadly, the taxpayers must take the hit on this because INAC was almost as responsible as the mining company for much of the mess.
Again, too much money earmarked for this important cleanup will be lost due to gross inefficiencies by many players involved with it. It's not right.

Up 17 Down 5

BnR on Dec 23, 2016 at 7:04 am

Your alternative to having a closure plan would be what exactly?
Seriously, how would you do it differently? Just turn a contractor loose at cost plus with the directive "clean it up"?
Let's not forget that ultimately, if the mining company(s) that caused this mess were held accountable and had the cash in place for remediation prior to work commencing, taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for this cost.

Up 46 Down 6

ProScience Greenie on Dec 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm

There is the real cost of clean up for Nansen and then there is the bloated cost that is all about maintaining a top heavy bureaucracy, meetings, travel, highly paid consultants milking it and of course, more meetings. All that wasted money would buy a whole lot of solar panels, wind turbines and housing and health care.

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