Giant Mine to cost billions to cleanup and look after for thousands of years – by Jack Caldwell ( – April 3, 2013)

The news wires are alive with reports of a billion dollar estimate for remediating the Giant Mine in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Here is an extract from one report:

Documents obtained by northern environmentalists show the government expects the cost of cleaning up the Giant Mine just outside Yellowknife to be nearly a billion dollars – perhaps the largest single environmental cleanup in Canada and paid for entirely by taxpayers. Initial estimates for safely dealing with the huge site, which includes a toxic smorgasbord of buildings, tailings ponds and a quarter-million tonnes of arsenic stored underground, were about $488 million. A federal progress report on the project says costs have increased as more has become known about the scale of the problem.

“The increase in estimated costs occurred as a result of the normal progression through the preliminary phases of the remediation project (… increased site information and detail obtained over time),” the report says. Rising labour and equipment costs are also part of the problem. So is the current state of the mine, which is so bad that emergency measures need to be taken this summer before large amounts of arsenic start escaping from collapsing buildings. The official price tag of $903 million could get higher yet.

The 2010 764-page Giant Mine Remediation Project Developer’s Assessment Report is available at this link:  if you want all the details and the history of the seemingly never-ending study of the site.

Can’t say they have not documented conditions and options. Although there are few options that are truly viable.

I have visited the site and met some of the folk involved in trying to move the project ahead. I attest they are professional and committed to action.

Yet there are so many interested parties, stakeholders, and study groups the process seems to be stuck in study not action.

The official site for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada tells of some of this multi-party study:

The project team received an information request from the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board as it reviews the material presented during the public hearings in September 2012.

We have applied to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water for a water licence before starting the urgent work required on the roaster complex and sections of the underground. Interested parties had until February 15th to submit their comments on the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board’s draft licence.

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