Giant Mine newsletter: January to February 2021

Get the most recent updates on the Giant Mine remediation project.

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Site update

Thermosyphons installed in Dam 1

Keeping the site safe involves regular inspections. This includes bringing expert third parties to inspect specific parts of the site, such as dams.

During the most recent dam safety review in 2019, the consultant reviewing the project's dams found a concern that could have impacted the stability of Dam 1.

Dam 1 plays an important role in the effluent treatment process. It holds the treated water while contaminants are settling out. The project needs Dam 1 to stay in service until the new water treatment plant is built. The new plant will be built during the active remediation phase.

The consultant advised the project team that they'd have to do more maintenance work in 2020 and 2021 to stabilize the dam.

The stability issues had to do with areas that were frozen before but had started to show signs of thawing. The team worked with design consultants to come up with possible solutions. With the support of the Independent Peer Review Panel, they decided to keep the area frozen using the same thermosyphon technology the project will use to freeze the arsenic stopes and chambers.

In October and November 2020, the project team installed 38 passive thermosyphons into Dam 1. The passive thermosyphons lower the structure's core temperature and keeps it in a frozen state. They also drilled 15 more holes to accommodate new monitoring instrumentation. Final instrumentation work was finished in December 2020. We'll keep monitoring the dam to make sure the thermosyphons are working to keep the dam stable.

The snow-covered ground of Dam 1 with a row of thermosyphons, which are vertical pipes filled with carbon dioxide to keep the ground frozen. A truck and drill rig are in the foreground of the photograph, with a work trailer and other equipment next to the thermosyphons.
The project team installed 38 passive thermosyphons. These vertical pipes are filled with carbon dioxide to help keep the ground frozen.

New signs along the Ingraham Trail

The Giant Mine Remediation Project team installed new signage at boundary locations along the Ingraham trail.

The Giant Mine Advisory Committee, which is made up of Yellowknives Dene First Nation representatives, recommended installing the new signs. The team worked with the Government of the Northwest Territories, who's responsible for highway signage, to respond to the committee's recommendation.

Installation took place in December 2020. The new signs help make sure that the public is aware of the site boundaries. They'll also help discourage people from entering contaminated areas.

Engagement update

Socio-economic implementation plan

The Giant Mine Remediation Project is holding socio-economic focused meetings, with parties such as:

  • the City of Yellowknife
  • North Slave Métis Alliance
  • the Yellowknives Dene First Nation
  • other rights holders and stakeholders

On January 20, the Giant Mine Remediation Project team held a socio-economic focused engagement session with members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Participants included:

  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation staff members and members of council
  • a representative from Det'on Cho Corporation
  • small business owners from Yellowknives Dene First Nation communities

The meeting was held to share the project's socio-economic implementation plan. The team also wanted to get input from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation about:

  • more items or actions that should be added to the plan
  • what parts of the plan they'd like the project to focus on
  • other items they might want to work on together

We'll work with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation's Economic Development Officer to integrate the input into the existing socio-economic implementation plan.

The plan guides the project team's socio-economic activities and is meant to be regularly reviewed and adapted. This way, the project team can add new actions, if needed. They can also make sure the project continues to maximize the benefits delivered to the community as a result of remediation work.

More socio-economic meetings will take place with the other rights holders and stakeholders in the coming weeks and months.

Aquatics engagement

The project team formed an Aquatic Advisory Committee made up of rights holder and stakeholder representatives to talk about the aquatic environment. More engagement sessions were held separately with rights holder groups.

The team's committed to making sure aquatics engagement continues to take place. But progress has slowed because of:

  • the need to work within the public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • efforts to avoid virtual meeting fatigue

The project team hopes to re-start the aquatic engagement sessions in April or May.

An underwater photo of a just-hatched grayling.
An underwater photo of a just-hatched grayling. Photo by Dr. Paul Vecsei, with Golder Associates Ltd. (used with permission).

Working group

The project team meets with the Giant Mine Working Group every month. These meetings take place virtually to respect public health guidelines, due to COVID-19.

During the meetings, the team:

  • provides regular updates to the working group about any changes to the site
  • reports back on engagement processes, such as the quantitative risk assessment
  • continues to work with participants to develop different regulatory closure criteria needed for the regulatory process

A project regulatory update is featured below.

Regulatory update

The project continues to update its management and monitoring plans, as needed under the water licence and land use permit. As they are submitted to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, they continue to be:

The Spill Contingency Plan and the Engagement Plan were submitted for public review through this process. Thank you to all reviewers who submitted comments to the board for our review. Our responses to the comments are on the public registry.

In January and February 2021, we expect to submit the following management and monitoring plans for public review:

The project also expects to submit the following design plans for public review by end of February:

To learn more about the regulatory process or how to participate, see the November/December 2020 newsletter.

Procurement update

Main Construction Manager Contract Extension

The Giant Mine Remediation Project is amending its main construction manager contract. Under this amendment, Parsons Inc.'s contract is extended to March 31, 2023. The company will keep managing the contracts and costs for the work on site, including existing care and maintenance work. They will also manage the tendering of contracts to implement the first remediation work packages, "early works."
As noted at the Fall 2020 Industry Day, Parsons will tender packages for the early works. This includes:

Parsons is also in the process of re-tendering the following work packages:

Recently completed work packages

The Giant Mine Remediation Project delivers social and economic benefits to Indigenous and Northern communities while protecting the environment and people's health.

About $499 million in contract values were awarded since Canada became responsible for care and maintenance of the site in 2005 until December 2020. Of this amount, $218 million (43.7%) went to Indigenous contractors.

Since becoming the main construction manager for the Giant Mine Remediation Project, the Parsons Inc. team awarded many contracts for work needed to keep the site safe and stable. Find information about subcontracts awarded and work packages finished before December 2020 in the last newsletter.

Below is a breakdown of work packages finished in December 2020 and January 2021. They include ones that haven't had their final contract values adjusted. Please note, the values reflected below were rounded.

Bear Monitoring

Parsons awarded the subcontract to provide bear monitoring services to Det'on Cho Scarlet Security Services. The contract was:

  • valued at $23,281
  • for the period of September 14 to October 31, 2020

Part of the company's bid included commitments to Indigenous opportunities considerations. These included:

  • 100% of the labour needed would be carried out by Indigenous staff

Dam 1 stabilization: thermosyphon installation

Parsons awarded the subcontract to install thermosyphons to stabilize Dam 1 to Arctic Foundations of Canada. The contract was:

  • valued at $844,650
  • for the period of September 14, 2020 to November 30, 2020

Part of the company's bid included commitments to Indigenous opportunities considerations. These included:

  • 25% of the labour needed would be carried out by Indigenous staff
  • 11% of the subcontracting dollar value would be to Indigenous companies

Dam 1 Stabilization - Drilling

Parsons awarded the drilling subcontract associated with installing thermosyphons into Dam 1 to Boart Longyear Canada. The contract was:

  • valued at $849,360
  • for the period of October 3, 2020 to December 16, 2020

Part of the company's bid included commitments to Indigenous opportunities considerations. These included:

  • 500 hours of training
  • 24% of the labour needed would be carried out by Indigenous staff
  • 7% of the subcontracting dollar value would be to Indigenous companies

Learn more about upcoming contract processes, visit: the main construction manager's website.

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