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2002 October Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

October 2002 Report—Chapter 3

Exhibit 3.3—Abandoned mines—Four case studies


Colomac Mine

Giant Mine

Faro Mine

Mount Nansen Mine


Open-pit gold mine

Underground and open-pit gold mine

Open-pit lead and zinc mine

Open-pit gold and silver mine


222 km north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Only accessible by air or ice roads.

5 km north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (population of 16,541).

15 km north of Town of Faro, Yukon (population of 313) and 200 km northeast of Whitehorse, Yukon (population of 21,405).

60 km west of Carmacks, Yukon (population of 431) and 180 km north of Whitehorse, Yukon.

Period of operation

From 1990 to 1997, with a three-year interruption.

From 1948 to 1999, the mine operated as an underground and open-pit mine and mill. From 1999 to present, it operated only as an underground mine, with ore trucked off-site.

From 1969 to 1998, with a four-year interruption.

From 1968 to 1969, from 1975 to 1976, and from October 1996 to February 1999.

Last owner

Royal Oak Mines went into receivership1 in April 1999.

Royal Oak Mines went into receivership in April 1999. Miramar is the present owner while Indian and Northern Affairs Canada currently pays 69 percent of all care and maintenance costs.

Anvil Range Mining Corp. went into receivership in April 1998.

BYG Resources went into receivership in February 1999.

Date Indian and Northern Affairs Canada assumed responsibility for the site

December 1999

December 1999

The Department sold it to Miramar, but kept the responsibility for the cleanup of the underground mine workings.

July 1998

The receiver is now managing the site. The Department was reimbursing the majority of care and maintenance costs, and since April 2001 has been reimbursing all of them. Once the receiver concludes the estate administration, the Department is to inherit this site.

August 1999

Amount the Department spent on care and maintenance

$11.3 million from December 1999 to April 2002 (includes some cleanup work, assessment studies, and monitoring).

$1.2 million from April 2001 to April 2002.

$14 million from July 1998 to April 2002 (includes some cleanup work).

$4 million from August 1999 to April 2002.

Department's cost estimates for cleanup

$70 million

$52.8 million to $399.9 million, depending on option selected.

At least $200 million

$6.3 million

Amount of financial security collected from owner

$1.5 million

$400,000 from Royal Oak Mines and $7 million from Miramar.

$14 million


Main environmental problem

Mine waste area is filling up with water that is contaminated with ammonia, cyanide, and metals. There is potential for a dam failure.

237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide dust are stored in underground chambers. Water coming in contact with the chambers is being contaminated with arsenic and is pumped to surface, treated, and released.

Water is contaminated with acid and metals (zinc) and requires continuous treatment. There is potential for a dam failure.

Water is contaminated with arsenic, cyanide, and metals and requires continuous treatment. There is potential for a dam failure.


1 Receivership: The status of a company whose affairs have been put in the hands of a receiver because it is unable to pay its bills and meet other obligations.

Note: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada provided the financial information for this exhibit.