Timeline: Learn about the Faro Mine remediation project
What is Faro Mine?
Faro Mine was once the largest open pit lead-zinc mine in the world. Today it is one of the most complex abandoned mine clean-up projects in Canada. The Faro Mine site is 25 sq. km, the same size as Victoria, British Columbia.
It is located outside of the town of Faro, Yukon, on the asserted traditional territory of the Kaska Nation and upstream from Selkirk First Nation.
- 70 million tonnes of tailings
- 320 million tonnes of waste rock
1969-1998: Thirty years of mining
Processing the minerals left behind waste rock and finely crushed particles (known as tailings) which have the potential to leach heavy metals and acid into the land and water.
That’s enough mining waste to cover 26,179 football fields, 1 metre deep.
- 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
Selecting the approach to remediation
Many remediation options were developed and then reviewed at public workshops. Following that, numerous technical studies were completed to refine the remediation approach and then reviewed by independent experts.
What we’re going to do
- 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
How we’re going to do it
- upgrade dams to ensure tailings stay in place
- re-slope waste rock piles
- install engineered soil covers over tailings and waste rock
- upgrade stream diversions
- upgrade contaminated water collection/treatment systems
Developing the remediation plan
The project team is moving forward with the final design of a detailed 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
Next steps for the project
- 2018: Government of Canada takes over responsibility for care and maintenance of the site. Construction begins on North Fork Rose Creek diversion. Environmental assessment process begins
- 2019: construction continues on North Fork Rose Creek diversion, water licence application submitted
- 2021: all regulatory authorizations issued, remediation plan design complete, construction manager hired for site remediation
- 2022: site remediation begins
Who’s involved in the project
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 Canada funds the project and is leading the care and maintenance, site monitoring, consultation, remediation plan design and regulatory process.
First Nations, 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.
Remediating Faro Mine in the Yukon