Giant Mine newsletter: September to October 2020
Get the most recent updates on the Giant Mine remediation project.
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Remediation project receives water licence
On September 18, 2020, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board notified the project team that Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal approved the type A water licence for the Giant Mine Remediation Project. This means the project has the regulatory authorization to move into active remediation. The project team is pleased to be at this next step in the process, having maintained the site until remediation could proceed. The project team looks forward to working with our rights-holders and stakeholders on the detailed plans and other submissions required under the regulatory process, so we can move forward with active remediation.
As previously noted, the water licence package represents a tremendous amount of work over several years by the project team, community partners, rights-holders and stakeholders, technical experts, members of the public, and the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The team expressed its appreciation to those who contributed their time and energy in support of developing the water licence package for submission. Their efforts on this complex and intricate project will help ensure the site remains safe for Northerners and the environment throughout the remediation and into long-term care.
Getting ready for remediation: next steps for the project team
The regulatory proceedings may have concluded, but the project team has remained hard at work. The team is preparing updates to the site-wide management plans and design plans for submission to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board for approval.
The project team submitted first drafts of the site-wide management plans as part of the regulatory process. These drafts showed how the project team planned to manage waste, water, dust and other planned activities for the site. The team began engaging with the Giant Mine Working Group, which is made up of rights-holders and stakeholders, in the summer of 2020 to allow for review and input into the next versions of the management plans. This engagement will continue throughout the fall. Once the project makes revisions to the draft management plans based on this engagement, these updated management plans will go to the board, as per the timelines established in the water licence conditions.
The project is working on advancing the substantive design and cost estimates for each site component of the Closure and Reclamation Plan. The project team will also engage with the Giant Mine Working Group on the outstanding closure criteria, which was in development as part of the regulatory process. Closure criteria will form part of the design plans to confirm the remediation objectives are met. Once submitted, the board will conduct its review of the design plans and people will have the opportunity to provide comments. Similar to the water licence process, the project team will to respond to these comments.
The team is working toward finalizing the necessary documents to submit to the board, to be able to start work in 2021.
Getting started: the work that will roll out first
Now that the water licence is in place, the project team continues to work to begin remediation in 2021. The project expects to start the following activities in 2021 and 2022:
- construction of the landfill to hold non-hazardous waste
- underground stabilization
- construction of the first of the 4 freeze pads, including rock blasting and other work to clear the area as well as building an access road
- preparation of material for Chamber 15 by excavating the highly contaminated soils in the former roaster area and conducting a soil washing program
- ongoing operation and maintenance of the effluent treatment plant
- dust control
- Dam 1 stabilization
- waste management, including temporary hazardous waste storage
- metal recycling
- sewage and greywater management
- temporary road upgrades to facilitate hauling townsite debris to the landfill
- townsite deconstruction
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.
Socio-economic strategy update
The project released its socio-economic strategy in September 2019. The strategy outlines how the project will identify and deliver socio-economic benefits to the communities. For example, the team is working to align how it approaches contracting with local capacity and needs in mind. The project is also helping other parties to develop local capacity and explore how to mitigate negative impacts.
As a next step in meeting commitments made in the strategy, the project developed a socio-economic implementation plan. The implementation plan outlines the deliverables, who is responsible for these deliverables, and what timelines the project will work with in order to deliver on its socio-economic commitments. The development of this implementation plan was a collaborative process. The Socio-economic Working Group invited other experts to a meeting in early February 2020 to identify what success should look like when it comes to implementing the socio-economic strategy over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years. The outcome of this process was a draft of the Socio-economic Implementation Plan (2020 – 2022).
To make sure the draft meets local needs and issues, the project team will hold focus group sessions in fall 2020. The goals of the focus groups are to:
- provide parties with current information about the project and the socio-economic strategy
- share the implementation plan and discuss the elements participants identify as most important
- identify opportunities to work together to support the implementation of the strategy, including specific actions for each organization and partner
The following focus group sessions will take place, specific to:
- looking at social impacts of the project with relevant parties
- the City of Yellowknife administration
- the Yellowknives Dene First Nation
- the North Slave Métis Alliance
- the Tłı̨chǫ Government
The project will use the outcomes of these focus group sessions to further refine the implementation plan and to identify specific priorities for the respective organizations. The project is taking steps to address the most time-sensitive activities identified in the draft plan. However, the final plan will help the project continue to make progress on these commitments.
As the Giant Mine site remediation work evolves, the project team will review and update the Socio-economic Implementation Plan.
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