With quarries around Yellowknife said to be nearly depleted, a Yellowknives Dene First Nation company is planning a new quarry to fill the need.
Det’on Cho Construction, a subsidiary of Yellowknives Dene economic development arm the Det’on Cho Corporation, hopes to build a quarry on the city’s municipal boundary, near Vee Lake.
The quarry’s main customer for the next decade would be the nearby Giant Mine remediation project, Det’on Cho Construction told city councillors last week.
As the site of the proposed project is on unsurveyed commissioner’s land, the City of Yellowknife would need to acquire the land from the NWT government then lease it to Det’on Cho. A range of bylaw and environmental permitting steps await the company.
City documents state an estimated four million cubic metres of aggregate will be needed for the remediation project, which the City says will drive up local demand as other quarries are nearing depletion.
John Henderson, chief operating officer for Det’on Cho, told councillors some of this aggregate may be produced at the remediation site itself, but outside sources will still be required.
Det’on Cho, quoting its own research, said the chosen quarry site could provide five million cubic metres of material.
This would be the first quarry Det’on Cho owns. The company previously operated a quarry near the city dump through a partnership with Landtran Systems, Henderson said.
The area around the proposed mine site is used by a variety of recreational groups, including hikers, snowmobilers, and some cabin owners.
Det’on Cho said the company would take steps to ensure workers and the public are safe, including publicizing information about when work is being done, lights, signs, and other markers, including flaggers and instructions to workers.
Because of the “sensitivity and the nature of the recreational use of the area,” Henderson said Det’on Cho is open to suggestions of novel safety measures. One idea is to fly over the area with drones ahead of blasting.
A City of Yellowknife map shows the location of the proposed quarry, roughly halfway down the Vee Lake road from the highway to the lake.
“Blasts won’t happen all the time but you could utilize drone technology to ensure that there are no hikers in the area, for example,” he said.
Councillor Julian Morse asked if the company could commit to ceasing its crushing and blasting activities during evenings and weekends in the peak recreation months of April to November. Morse said activity at the quarry could disturb hikers on nearby trails, like the popular walk to Ranney Hill.
In response, Henderson said the company would aim to operate during regular weekday 9am-5pm working hours, but the remediation project could see rushes of demand during the summer months.
If the Giant Mine project pays in advance for the material, said Henderson, the work could be done in the winter months. However, having inventory sitting in the quarry is costly, he added.
Councillor Niels Konge said the quarry’s hours would not be a problem if Det’on Cho adhered to the City’s noise bylaw.
“I’m not too worried about weekends and working later,” Konge said. “I’m in construction. It’s summer, you’ve got to work.”
Road may be widened
Mining company Gold Terra, formerly TerraX, has property near the proposed quarry site. Joe Campbell, Gold Terra’s chief operating officer, told Cabin Radio the proposed quarry would sit outside its property and have no impact on exploration activities.
“Gold Terra is supportive of Det’on Cho creating independent industrial activity that will benefit the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and Yellowknife city interests,” Campbell added.
Henderson said a closure plan for the quarry would return the land to a state where “you wouldn’t know it was there when it’s finished.”
He continued: “This project is supported by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, both from an environmental sense and an economic sense.
“It is financially viable and employment-generating. The rock and material is non-acid bearing. Ultimately, we’re committed to returning that site to something that would blend to the natural environment.”
The zoning of the land, in a so-called “growth management” zone, requires that the quarry goes before council for approval. The project must go through environmental permitting processes as well.
Henderson said the Vee Lake road may need to be widened to accommodate quarry traffic, which would be work performed by Det’on Cho under the City’s authority.
The project will be discussed at council on Monday night. Bylaws regarding acquisition of the land and its lease to Det’on Cho will have first and second reading.