British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Geochemical challenges associated with water treatment at abandoned or neglected mines in Southeast Yukon Rainey, D. K.


At mine sites with geochemically reactive wastes the interim period between cessation of mining and implementation of a remediation plan may extend for years or decades, during which time chemical treatment of mine contact water is commonly required. Three non-producing mines in southeast Yukon (Ketza River, Wolverine and the Faro Mine Complex) are compared to illustrate how remediation implementation delays at abandoned and neglected mines are impacted by challenging pre-remediation water treatment requirements. The complexity, cost, and duration of water treatment activities differ greatly between the sites, depending on the chemical nature of the contaminants and volume of water to be treated. Remote, subarctic, mountainous conditions where most water management activities must be conducted during a short summer season contribute to water treatment challenges. Water treatment at Faro is anticipated to continue in perpetuity, whereas remediation at Ketza River and Wolverine could potentially eliminate the need for repeated and seasonal water treatment campaigns. A key lesson learned from these sites is that during implementation of water treatment for the interim period, it is commonly discovered that geochemical conditions have deteriorated so severely that remediation plans become obsolete. This leads to unanticipated water treatment costs while remediation plans are updated.

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