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, the Ross River Dena Council, Liard First Nation and Kaska Dena Council. The mine is upstream from Selkirk First Nation. The Faro Mine site is located across 25 sq. km – an area roughly the size of Victoria, British Columbia.
Processing the valuable minerals at the mine left behind 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock. This waste has 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?
Kaska Faro Secretariat
Established in 2016, the secretariat coordinates the Kaska Nation's participation and interests in the project.
Government of Yukon
The Government of Yukon participates in the Faro Mine Remediation Project to ensure the interests of Yukoners are incorporated into the project.
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada funds the project and is leading the care and maintenance, site monitoring, consultation, remediation plan design and regulatory process.
First Nations, the Town of Faro and other stakeholders are consulted on an ongoing basis to ensure the project incorporates their input. First Nations include the Kaska Nations (Ross River Dena Council, Liard First Nation and Kaska Dena Council) and Selkirk First Nation.
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 Government of Yukon, 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
Learn about key dates in the remediation project.
History of mining operations
- 1969 to 1998: processing of minerals left behind waste rock and finely crushed particles, known as tailings
- 1998: Faro Mine is abandoned when the owner declares bankruptcy
- 2003: Devolution Transfer Agreement takes effect, Faro Mine identified as a shared responsibility between the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada
Developing the remediation plan
- 2009: Government of Yukon takes over responsibility for care and maintenance at the site
- 2010: grum sulphide cell constructed with engineered covers to protect environment from contaminants
- 2011: contractor hired to work on research to help with remediation plan design
- 2013: old water treatment plant closed due to health and safety concerns
- 2015: new state-of-the-art water treatment plant in operation
- seepage collection system installed at the North Fork Rose Creek as a temporary measure to reduce zinc levels in water
- 2016: contractors hired to work on regulatory applications and design plans for urgent works and remediation
- 2018: Government of Canada takes over responsibility for care and maintenance of the site. Construction begins on North Fork Rose Creek diversion
- 2019: environmental assessment process begins
Next steps for the project and estimated dates
- 2020 to 2021: North Fork Rose Creek diversion construction complete
- 2021 to 2022: water licence application submitted
- 2022 to 2023: all regulatory authorizations issued, remediation plan design complete, construction manager hired for site remediation
- 2023 to 2024: site remediation begins once regulatory authorizations are received
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.
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
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.
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
The Faro Mine interim construction manager funding agreement has been awarded to Parsons, Inc. This is an important step forward in the Faro Mine Remediation Project. Parsons will be responsible for managing immediate projects at the site and ensuring First Nation and Yukon hires and subcontractors have priority. Any of the work for the Faro Mine Remediation Project that is procured by Parsons Inc will be tendered through merx.com.
Search for job opportunities with Parsons Inc.
Any of the work for the Faro Mine Remediation Project that is procured by the Government of Canada 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.
Faro Mine Remediation Project
415C-300 Main Street,