AUDIO: A mine was once here: reclamation underway at Hemlo in northern Ontario – by Jeff Walters (CBC News Thunder Bay – September 21, 2017)

Could take 50 years for site to blend into surrounding forest

It is considered to be one of the best gold mine camps in Canada, and the reclamation underway at the Hemlo Gold Camp near Marathon, Ont., could also make it one of the best mining cleanups in the country. The Hemlo camp was home to three mines, operating side by side, for nearly three decades. Now, the Golden Giant and David Bell Mines are empty fields.

The Gold Giant Mine operated until 2014, while the David Bell Mine ceased production in 2010. The Williams Mine, the furthest west of the three operations, at this point, could run its open pit and underground workings until 2031.

“To see [them] close down is definitely a hard thing to see, but we wanted to make sure it was done responsibly,” said Jeremy Dart, Barrick’s environmental superintendent. “A lot of the employees and people that worked here had some excellent training and skills they were able to take to other mining operations, or other career sets.”

Dart has worked at the Hemlo mines since they opened up in the mid-1980s. Back then, there was no mine reclamation plan, or environmental closure plan. Fast forward to the early 2000s when the mines were getting to the end of their life, and Dart had to come up with a way of remediating the site.

Closure plans needed

“All three mines started in the mid-1980s,” Dart said. “The Golden Giant Mine closed in 2006. We purchased that property in 2011, and continued to operate it until 2014.”

“Prior to the 1990s there was no requirement for a closure plan for any mines in Ontario,” he said. “Now we have to have prescribed plans, even before you open a mine you have to have a closure plan so that we know how to close it before we open it.”

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