Giant Mine remediation team presents closure plan at public hearing

(Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB).

The Giant Mine Remediation Project team is hoping the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will approve its water license and land use permit for its final closure plan.

The board is hosting a public hearing until Friday, January 24 to discuss the closure plan.

Dettah Chief Edward Sangris says there’s still a perceived fear of the Giant Mine site, knowing there are hundreds of thousands of tonnes of arsenic trioxide underground. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB).

The remediation team says the plan builds on work that’s already been done at the site.

Having the board approve the plan will allow the team to move to active remediation, which is expected to take 10 years. That means large closure activities like filling in the pits, covering the tailings ponds and monitoring the long-term freezing of the arsenic trioxide onsite, among others.

There are 237,000 tonnes of the toxic material frozen underground at the mine site.

That’s a special concern to Dettah Chief Edward Sangris, who says he knows the land will never be the same.

A balance of uncertainty

The first day of the hearing focused on the remediation team presenting its plan.

Following that, interveners had the chance to ask the project team questions. Many interveners were looking for more details on the closure activities. The remediation project preferred leaving those details to the design plans which are to come later if the MVLWB approves the water license and land use permit.

“We all acknowledge that more detail is necessary, that the plan they put forward is conceptual, that they need some comfort before they invest in really detailed design because that’s a big investment,” said Dr. Kathy Racher, the chair of the Giant Mine Oversight Board. “But at the same time, everyone else needs the comfort that what they’re approving is known. There’s this balance of who feels more uncertain and we have to share that uncertainty.”

The board has scheduled an evening session, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, for members of the public to voice their opinions on the closure plan.

The hearing takes place at the Caribou Room at the Chateau Nova.

Giant Mine Arsenic slides public hearing

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.