‘Toke Mountain’ may have opened door to tailings-based mining – by Jonathon Naylor (Flin Flon Reminder – September 18, 2017)


What if mine waste isn’t waste at all, but another potential source of riches for resource-based communities? That was the enticing question raised by BacTech Mining Corporation upon its arrival in northern Manitoba.

The little-known Toronto-based company was built on the premise that it could process mine waste, known as tailings, for the benefit of both its bottom line and public safety. BacTech’s expertise revolves around bioleaching, a process that employs bacteria to cleanse tailings of their toxic components.

At the same time, bioleaching exposes metals trapped within the tailings, permitting conventional recovery at a potentially significant profit. At least as far back as 2010, BacTech had its sights set on northern Manitoba – and with good reason.

Toke Mountain

Everyone from Snow Lake knows what Toke Mountain is. The aptly named party spot is a mound of dried tailings spread across nearly 20,000 sq metres, reaching heights of 10 metres at some points. These gold-laced tailings – some 250,000 tonnes of them – were left piled near the Nor Acme gold mine, later known as the New Britannia gold mine, when it closed in 1958.

While locals joke about people “toking” at the hill, Toke Mountain’s high arsenic content is no laughing matter. Over a number of years, this arsenic became mobilized and leached into local water supplies and soil, according to BacTech. The tailings mound itself became property of the Manitoba government.

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