June 2017: What's Happening at Giant?

Table of contents

Trade Show Participation

Giant Mine Remediation Project staff members Geneva Irwin and Aaron Braumberger have the booth set up and ready for visitors.

Our participation in this year’s Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce Trade Show was a great success. The Giant Mine Remediation Project team spoke to and met with community members over the course of the weekend. The team was joined by Renata Rosol, the Health Effects Monitoring Program project coordinator. Renata made sure to stay throughout the whole event to answer questions about this upcoming human health study. For more information about this biological sampling program, including updates and upcoming events, visit the Health Effects Monitoring Program website.

For those who stopped by our booth, thank you for taking the time to voice your comments and concerns. Look for us at the trade fair again next year. You can also contact us at any time at giantmine@aandc.gc.ca.

Yellowknife Dene First Nations Career Day

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our table at the 9th Annual Yellowknives Dene First Nations Career Fair in Dettah. Community consultation and engagement is an important part of the Giant Mine remediation plan. The YKDFN Career Fair was a great opportunity to learn from the community. It will help us to further develop the Giant Mine YKDFN Socio-Economic Strategy.

Project Manager Aaron Braumberger plucks a duck. Aaron took part in some of traditional activities during the YKDFN Career Day.
Members of the Yellowknife Dene First Nations cook meat over a fire during the YKDFN Annual Career Day.

Discharging water at the Giant Mine site

The Giant Mine Remediation Project Team continues to ensure the site remains safe for local residents and site workers until remediation can begin. Treating and discharging mine water is one of the care and maintenance activities the Remediation Project team is required to do to make sure the site stays in a stable condition so residents and workers are safe. There is not enough storage capacity to continually store all of the mine water before remediation begins. As a result, we must treat it so it can be safely discharged. This is done according to all the requirements of the former water licence, as well as all requirements of the federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) under the Fisheries Act.

The Project does not currently have a water licence. In 2007, the Remediation Project team applied for one, and this application was sent for an Environmental Assessment. When the Environmental Assessment Final Decision was issued in August 2014, it included 26 measures. Some of these need to be addressed before the Project can reapply for a water licence for the remediation.

The Project is governed by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA). As the team works toward addressing the measures to apply for a water licence, section 89 of the MVRMA allows the Minister to "take any reasonable measures to prevent, counteract, mitigate or remedy any adverse effect, in a federal area, on persons, property or the environment…if the federal Minister has reasonable grounds to believe that [(b)(ii)] a danger to persons, property or the environment may result from past operation of the work or from its closing or abandonment."

During the scoping sessions for the Environmental Assessment, the Project Team and the regulators discussed care and maintenance activities that are addressed by section 89. These were further defined in the Developer’s Assessment Report (section 1.7.1, pages 1-20 to 1-21).

Since the management of mine water, including discharging treated water into Baker Creek, is one of the activities required to keep the mine site in safe and stable condition, the team and the regulators agree it falls under section 89. Regulatory authorities, including the Environment and Climate Change Canada and the territorial land use inspectors, monitor the activities on the site. More information on our water treatment program is available on the Water Treatment at Giant Mine Webpage.

Working towards a water licence

One example of Effluent Quality Criteria, example taken from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board website.

The Giant Mine Remediation project team continues to work toward meeting the measures of the Report of Environmental Assessment Final Decision from the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. Some of the 26 measures from this report need to be complete before the team can reapply for a water licence. These requirements include setting the effluent quality criteria (EQC) for the site.

This criteria set the concentrations, quantities or limits of any contaminant that could affect water quality in a natural environment. For the Project team to set levels for the site, we first need to conduct research on the chemical makeup of the water in Baker Creek and Yellowknife Bay before we start the cleanup work. We need to look at what the water is like now, so we can figure out the next steps in treating water to reach the new goals for discharge.

Currently, the project is gathering additional information on the baseline conditions of the water in Baker Creek and Yellowknife Bay. The sampling results will be added to the existing data. These results will be used to produce a full list of the components of the water in Baker Creek and Yellowknife Bay, even things that are not harmful. Then, the team will use these data to develop water quality models, which will be used to set the proposed EQC. The EQC will then need to be approved by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and issued in the water licence. The EQC define what levels of contaminant can be discharged without harming the water quality in the receiving environment.

To learn more about the MVLWB Water and Effluent Quality Management Policy, visit the Mackenzie Vallay Land and Water Board Website.

Students receive hands-on experience with the Giant Mine Remediation Project team

Biology students from École St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife, NT, learned about environmental monitoring from biologists working on the Giant Mine Remediation Project. Students received hands-on experience with the Giant Mine Remediation Project team on how environmental monitoring helps ensure the safety, health and protection of Northerners and the environment.

While students took samples of invertebrates (small bugs), water, sediment, and small fish for live release from the Yellowknife River, project team members explained how the different types of sampling helps evaluate the health of an ecosystem. The Project team was excited to show students a real-life application of the science they are learning in the classroom.

The best kind of classroom – the kind that gets you outside!

In today’s field trip, students experienced the real world application of the biology they are learning about at school.

Sediment samples are collected with Ekman grab sampler. The team collects sediment this way as part of site monitoring. It is then put in bags to send to the lab.

Students used seine fishing nets and dip nets to catch small-bodied fish in Yellowknife River.

The Project team brought larger fish for the students to dissect and assess the health of the fish by looking at length, weight, and condition of the organs.

From the fish’s tip of the nose to end of the tail: students check against a fish health assessment form.

Date modified: