British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Case study : development of a rehabilitation plan for the abandoned Arctic Gold and Silver Mine site Nahir, Michael; Scott, Cameron; Royle, Michael; Palmer, Mark


The Arctic Gold and Silver mine is situated between Carcross and the BC-Yukon border. The mine, which included primarily underground workings, a processing plant and a tailings impoundment, operated intermittently over a period of less than 2 years in the late I960's before being abandoned. An environmental assessment conducted in 1997 revealed that tailings seepage has a low pH and high metal concentrations, and is discharging into a small lake adjacent to the impoundment. The Arctic Gold and Silver Working Group was established in 1997 with the objective of guiding the development and selection of a rehabilitation plan for the abandoned mine facilities. The Working Group comprises representatives of affected stakeholders, including the .Carcross-Tagish First Nation and various government departments. The development of a detailed rehabilitation plan commenced in 1998 with a detailed assessment of the environmental conditions at the site. A series of options for remediating the tailings were subsequently developed and each of the options underwent an evaluation to determine its probable effectiveness. Based on this evaluation, two options were "short-listed" for further consideration. The first consisted of consolidation and covering of the tailings, a well established technological approach. The second consisted of chemical amendment by heap leaching and reprocessing of the tailings, a technology that has become common in recent years although there are relatively few such cases in the North. The two short-listed options were compared on the basis of factors such as environmental benefits, estimated costs and the level of certainty associated with each of the cost estimates. The results of these comparative evaluations were submitted to the Arctic Gold and Silver Working Group who, following a review of all the options, selected the consolidation and cover option. The rehabilitation activities were implemented during summer 1999.

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