Remediation

Current Status

On October 18, 2007, DIAND applied for Type A Water Licence, to cover the remediation of Giant Mine and ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the site. On March 31, 2008, the City of Yellowknife referred the Licence application to the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB) for Environmental Assessment, on the basis that the proposed activities to take place during the term of the Water Licence would have, in the City’s opinion, an adverse impact on the environment within its municipal boundaries.

On June 20, 2013, MVEIRB released its Report of Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Giant Mine Remediation Project. The Minister of DIAND approved the EA, including modified measures on August 11, 2014. Since then, the Giant Mine Remediation Project (GMRP) has worked towards fulfilling the requirements of the Measures set forth in the EA and preparing for a Water Licence application to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB).

In mid-2018, the GMRP provided a draft Closure and Reclamation Plan for stakeholder review. The GMRP subsequently addressed stakeholder comments and completed their formal Water Licence application, sharing it publicly for a period of months, and formally submitting it to the MVLWB on April 1, 2019. GMOB has been engaged throughout this process.

In 2019, GMOB submitted comments on the project description package; participated in formal technical sessions (July & September 2019); reviewed and engaged in two rounds of information requests and responses; reviewed submissions and responses to water compensation claims by affected individuals and organizations; reviewed Party interventions and GMRP responses, and has submitted a formal GMOB intervention for the upcoming Public Hearings. GMOB will be engaged in the final stages to include; the MVLWB Public Hearing; and providing final comments to the draft water licence in March 2020.

UPDATE: On January 20-24, 2020 the MVLWB will be holding a Public Hearing on Giant Mine Remediation Project Post-Environmental Assessment Information Package (MV2007L8-0031) and Land Use Permit (MV2019X0007) application. It will be held at the Chateau Nova, in the Caribou Room, in Yellowknife NT from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. This event is open to the public, however public input will be limited to a brief portion of the agenda, the majority of the agenda is for registered interveners. This Licence will see the Giant Mine Remediation Project move into active closure and includes consideration of the Final Closure and Reclamation Plan. There will also be two evening sessions Tuesday, January 21, 2020, and Wednesday, January 22, 2020, from 7-9 pm for those that would like to attend. Here is the link to the Public Hearing on Giant Mine Remediation Project agenda http://registry.mvlwb.ca/Documents/MV2007L8-0031/MV2007L8-0031%20-%20DIAND-GIANT%20-%20Public%20Hearing%20Agenda%20-%20Jan10-20.pdf

Here is a guide to the interventions that will be presented at the hearing.

PartyLink to InterventionLink to Public Hearing Presentation
Project TeamGMRP Responses to InterventionsPART 1PART 2PART 3
Alternatives NorthAN InterventionAN Presentation
City of YellowknifeCityYk InterventionCityYk Presentation
Dept of Fisheries and OceansDFO InterventionDFO Presentation
Environment and Climate Change CanadaECCC InterventionECCC Presentation
Giant Mine Oversight BoardGMOB InterventionGMOB Presentation
North Slave Metis AllianceNSMA InterventionNSMA Presentation
Slater EnvironmentalSlater InterventionSlater Presentation
Yellowknives Dene First NationYKDFN InterventionYKDFN Presentation
Yellowknife Historical SocietyYK Hist InterventionYK Hist Presentation

A decision by the MVLWBs is anticipated by the end of May 2020. The Minister of CIRNAC will then have up to ninety days to approve or reject the licence and return their decision to the MVLWB.


Giant Mine

Giant Mine is located approximately five kilometers north of Yellowknife, NT lying within the city limits and in close proximity to the communities of Ndilo and Dettah. The site lies on the north shore of Yellowknife Bay, part of Great Slave Lake and in close proximity to numerous creeks, rivers, ponds, and small lakes and is considered to include everything within the boundaries of the former lease in place during the operational period of the mine. Two impacted areas immediately outside of the lease area are also considered to be part of the site. They are the Giant Mine “townsite”, which was removed from the surface lease in 1999 and an area of historic tailings deposition along the shore of North Yellowknife Bay.

Gold was found on the Giant Mine site in 1935 but a commercial ore body was not confirmed until 1944 when a massive gold-bearing shear zone was uncovered beneath the Baker Creek Valley. The Burwash Mine, Con Mine, and Negus Mine were all developed in the area before the Giant claims entered into production. Giant Yellowknife Gold Mines Limited poured its first gold brick on June 3, 1948, and the mine, under various owners, remained in operation until 2004 generating over seven million ounces of gold.

Ownership of the mine moved through the hands of a number of companies: Giant Yellowknife Mines, Ltd. (a subsidiary of Falconbridge (1948-86), Pamour (1986-1990), Royal Oak Mines (1990- 1999) and Miramar Mining Corporation (1999-2004).  When Royal Oak Mines went bankrupt in 1999, the Government of Canada became responsible for cleaning up the Giant Mine site and allowed Miramar Mining Corporation to haul ore from the site to its mill at Con Mine until Giant Mine was finally closed in 2004.

Over the lifetime of Giant Mine, 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust were collected and stored in fourteen underground chambers at the mine site.


Giant Mine Site, Ndilo, Yellowknife, and Dettah


Giant Mine Drone Footage 2019


Giant Mine Remediation Project

The Giant Mine Remediation Project’s primary goal is to protect human health and safety and the environment. To do so, the project is focused on the long-term containment and management of the stored underground arsenic trioxide waste, demolition, and removal of on-site buildings, water management and treatment, and the remediation of all surface areas including the tailings ponds at the Giant Mine site.

As a result of their shared responsibilities for the Giant Mine site, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) on behalf of the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) are Co-Proponents of the Giant Mine Remediation Project.

The Giant Mine Remediation Project is currently funded through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan.


Giant Mine Remediation Project Team

The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team involves staff from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), Public Services and Procurement Canada and the GNWT.

Given that the Giant Mine site is subject to the jurisdictional authority of both the territorial and federal governments, a Cooperation Agreement Respecting the Giant Mine Remediation Project (March 15, 2005) established CIRNAC and the GNWT, as Co-Proponents, who would jointly implement a care and maintenance plan for the site that protects human health, public safety, and the environment. In 2015, the Cooperation Agreement Respecting the Giant Mine Remediation Project was renewed. The Cooperation Agreement also outlined the financial responsibilities of the federal and territorial governments regarding the site care and maintenance and the cost-sharing for surface remediation. CIRNAC is responsible for the management of the arsenic trioxide stored underground at the Giant Mine site.

Click this link for more information on the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team.

The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team also produces a regular newsletter, in English and French, highlighting the activity and progress of the remediation project.

The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team consults with the public, First Nations, Metis, and various stakeholder organizations through a number of avenues including formal public meetings and presentations as well as regular meetings of the Giant Mine Working Group (GMWG).

Main Contract Manager

In 2017, Parsons Corporation was named the Main Construction Manager for the current care and management of the Giant Mine site as well as the onsite management of contracts for the remediation work once the Water Licence has been approved.  Parsons is a private company headquartered in Pasadena, California.

For information and updates regarding Parson’s work at Giant Mine click this link.


Committees

The Giant Mine Oversight Board observes the work of a number of Committees involved with the Giant Mine remediation process. These include:

Giant Mine Working Group (GMWG)

The Giant Mine Working Group (GMWG) was formed in August 2013. This working group provides a forum for parties to discuss and make recommendations on technical, operational and project activities regarding the remediation of Giant Mine. Its members include Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), Environment Canada (EC), Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Alternatives North (AN), Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), Health Canada (HC) and the City of Yellowknife. GMWG is co-chaired by CIRNAC and GNWT and plans monthly meetings.

YK Health Effects Monitoring Program

In 2014, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board completed its seven-year assessment of the Giant Mine Remediation Project to address public concerns about the impact the mine’s clean-up activities may have on the local populations’ health. One of the requirements by the Review Board was to design and implement a Health Effects Monitoring Program in Ndilo, Dettah and Yellowknife. The purpose of the program was to make sure the remediation activities that will take place at Giant Mine will not have a negative impact on people’s health. The program has been designed to establish current or baseline levels of arsenic exposure among residents in Ndilo, Dettah, and Yellowknife before remediation work begins. Then, during remediation, new monitoring results will be compared to the baseline to ensure participants’ arsenic levels are not increasing because of work being done at Giant Mine. This study is led by Dr. Laurie Chan, University of Ottawa, with advice and input from; The Health Effects Monitoring Program Advisory Committee made up of the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, North Slave Métis Alliance, Giant Mine Oversight Board, City of Yellowknife with additional support from the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research.

Past committees working on the Project have included the following;

Health Study Advisory Committee (HSAC)

The Health Study Advisory Committee (HSAC) was formally established in June 2016. Its purpose is to provide advice and make recommendations to the Principal Investigator and the Project Team in the development and implementation of the Health Effects Monitoring Program Advisory Committee (HEMPAC) by utilizing expertise and knowledge of regional and community level issues. Its member includes Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), the Chief Public Health Officer GNWT, Health Canada, City of Yellowknife, Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA). Meetings are held when required, with an attempt to schedule two face-to-face meetings per year. The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team (GMRP) is responsible for coordinating these meetings.

Giant Mine Advisory Committee (GMAC)

Through the Giant Mine Advisory Committee (GMAC) the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) are able to express concerns they have about the project and receive updates about the project from the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team (GMRPT). The GMRPT is, in turn, able to obtain traditional knowledge input and receive feedback on the design of the remediation plan from YKDFN. This committee meets monthly and is coordinated by the YKDFN.

Communicating with Future Generation (CFG)

The Communicating with Future Generations (CFG) Working Group was formed in February 2015 but no longer meets. It was established to facilitate information sharing among key stakeholder and the governments managing the site, with a focus on strategies for communicating with future generations about the management needs of the site. Its membership included the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), the City of Yellowknife and the NWT Mining Heritage Society. The Toxic Legacies Project coordinated these meetings.

Giant Mine Community Alliance (GMCA)

Giant Mine Community Alliance was established as a community liaison committee in June 2003 by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), to assist the public by sharing information about the project and relaying public concerns and issues about the remediation of Giant Mine. This Committee is not currently active. Its membership included the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), Public Health GNWT, NWT Mining Heritage Society, Ecology North, Northwest Territories Federation of Labour, Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, City of Yellowknife, Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).  The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team (GMRPT) Team coordinated these meetings when required.