Remediating Faro Mine in the Yukon
Learn about efforts to remediate this mine.
What is the Faro Mine?
Faro Mine was once the largest open pit lead-zinc mine in the world. Today, it is the site of one of the most complex abandoned mine remediation projects in Canada.
It is located in south-central Yukon, near the town of Faro, on the Traditional Territory of three Kaska Nations including Ross River Dena Council, Liard First Nation, Kaska Dena Council, and upstream from Selkirk First Nation. The Faro Mine site is located across 25 sq. km – an area that is roughly the size of the City of Victoria in British Columbia.
Processing the valuable minerals at the mine left behind 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock, which have the potential to leach heavy metals and acid into the surrounding land and water.
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the clean-up of Faro Mine will leave a more positive legacy for the environment, local people and the local economy.
Who is responsible for Faro Mine?
In 1998, after 30 years of mining, when the last owner declared bankruptcy, the Government of Canada stepped in to fund the work required to keep the site safe. Today, through a joint project team, the governments of Canada and Yukon are working to provide regular care and maintenance while a plan is developed to remediate the mine. In 2016, the Kaska Faro Secretariat was formed and represents Kaska involvement in the project.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is leading the final design phase of the remediation plan. The Government of Yukon's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources is leading the ongoing care and maintenance of the mine site. All funding for these activities is provided through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan.
The clean-up plan
In 2009, after many years of research, extensive professional review and consultation, a remediation approach was selected.
Key features selected for the remediation of the site include:
- upgrading dams to ensure tailings stay in place
- re-sloping waste rock piles
- installing engineered soil covers over the tailings and waste rock
- upgrading stream diversions
- upgrading the contaminated water collection and treatment system.
In partnership with the Kaska First Nation, Selkirk First Nation and other affected and interested groups, the Faro Mine Remediation Project team established five critical objectives for the remediation plan:
- protect human health and safety
- protect and, to the extent practicable, restore the environment including land, air, water, fish and wildlife
- return the mine site to an acceptable state of use that reflects pre-mining land use where practicable
- maximize local and Yukon socio-economic benefits
- manage long-term site risk in a cost-effective manner
Remediation experts are working on a detailed remediation plan – including engineering designs. Once complete, it will to be submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board and the Yukon Water Board for assessment and regulatory review.
Higher risks identified in the plan will be addressed even before the full remediation plan is completed to maintain environmental standards. This work includes addressing the elevated zinc levels in the North Fork of Rose Creek and upgrading the intermediate dam to bring it up to present day standards.
Once the regulatory, environmental and socio-economic assessments are approved and the project receives final approval, the major construction phase will begin. It is expected to take about 15 years to complete, followed by 20 to 25 years of testing, monitoring and making any needed improvements to the site.
Some areas of the Faro Mine site will always remain under active management and monitoring.
Consultation and engagement
Faro Mine is located in the Traditional Territory of the Kaska Nation and is upstream from the Traditional Territory of Selkirk First Nation.
A key aspect of the Faro Mine Remediation Project has been ongoing consultation and engagement with the Kaska, Selkirk First Nation, the town of Faro and other interested parties. The project team is keeping these groups informed and involved.
Through an on-going and respectful nation-to-nation dialogue, the Faro Mine Remediation Project will continue as a partnership with local First Nations. There is a commitment to provide jobs for local First Nations and other Yukoners ranging from specialized services to general labour.
In partnership with the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon, the Kaska Faro Secretariat was established in 2016 to represent Ross River Dena Council and Liard First Nation interests in the Faro Mine Remediation Project. The secretariat will coordinate Kaska participation in the planning process and further enable the Kaska to be an effective and contributing partner in all phases of the project.
Contracting and jobs
Most of the design work for the Faro Mine Remediation Project will be tendered and awarded through buyandsell.gc.ca. You can find requests for proposals or tenders by using the key words "Faro Mine" in the search field.
For construction work on the project, visit the Government of Yukon's website.
Have your say
Looking for information or have a comment? We want to hear from you.
Public engagement sessions on the Faro Mine Remediation Project will be held in spring 2017. If you would like to be notified about upcoming sessions or would like to provide feedback on the project, then please contact us.
Faro Mine Remediation Project
25 Eddy Street, 10th floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H4
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