Environment

Giant Mine cleanup team sets out 2021-22 timeline


The Giant Mine townsite will start to come down in the next two years, managers of the federally led project forecast as they set out the work expected to begin by 2022.

Remediation of Giant, a former gold mine on Yellowknife’s doorstep, is set to ramp up significantly in the years ahead, eventually creating hundreds of jobs in the city.

The expected economic impact has been likened to that of a small mine opening.

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Earlier this month, the Giant cleanup team published a list of work it plans to start in 2021 and 2022.

Among the work that will roll out first, the team wrote, is deconstruction of the townsite. Now a ghost town, the site once housed workers at the mine, which closed in 2004.

The broader aim of remediation is to encase 237,000 tonnes of toxic arsenic trioxide, currently stored underground, in what amounts to a wall of ice so it cannot escape and water cannot enter or exit.

The Giant team says this is the safest option until a more permanent means of storing or eradicating the toxic dust is found. That could be decades away.

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Other work set to begin in 2021 and 2022 includes:

  • construction of a landfill for non-hazardous waste
  • underground stabilization work
  • construction of a freeze pad, including rock blasting and construction of an access road
  • excavation of highly contaminated soil in the former roaster area and a soil-washing program
  • dam stabilization work
  • temporary road upgrades so townsite debris can be hauled to the landfill

“While this work is ongoing, the project team will also ensure regular care and maintenance activities take place, to keep people and the environment protected as the remediation moves forward,” the Giant Mine remediation project’s website states.

Parsons, the corporation acting as construction manager for the project, is holding an online “industry day” over three days from October 20 to 22. The event provides information for local contractors about work opportunities coming up.

Meanwhile, more focus groups will be held as the Giant team works to implement its socio-economic strategy.

The strategy is designed to maximize the social and economic benefits the cleanup work offers to Indigenous and northern communities. Giant has previously faced criticism over a lack of northern and Indigenous employment at the site.

Focus groups to be held this fall will involve the City of Yellowknife, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, North Slave Métis Alliance, and Tłı̨chǫ Government among others, the Giant website states.

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