For many years, the mine near the Town of Faro produced lead, zinc, silver, and gold. In 1998, the operator of the mine was placed into receivership and all mining stopped. From 1998 until March 1, 2009 the Government of Canada paid for care and maintenance work carried out at the site by the court appointed interim receiver, Deloitte and Touche. This work included water treatment so that water flowing from the site met acceptable standards. It also included regular inspection and maintenance of all structures on the site.
On March 1, 2009, the Government of Yukon took over the responsibilities for managing the Faro Mine Complex from Deloitte and Touche. A new care and maintenance contract was awarded to Denison Environmental Services after an open and competitive bidding process overseen by the Government of Yukon.
Since 2003, planning for remediation and closure of the Faro Mine Complex has been a major undertaking, the responsibility for which has fallen to government. The process has involved years of planning, technical studies, community consultations, expert review and cost analysis. It has depended on governments working together with affected Yukon First Nations to address issues, discuss alternatives and agree on an option that addresses protection of the environment and human health and safety, while balancing economic costs and benefits.
In January 2003, the federal and territorial governments acknowledged that the Faro Mine Complex would not reopen and that a permanent, long-term closure plan would be needed. The two governments then entered into a joint agreement with the Ross River Dena Council and Selkirk First Nation to provide strategic direction on the overall closure planning and remediation process.
The Government of Canada, Yukon government, Selkirk First Nation, and Ross River Dena Council took a collaborative approach to developing the closure objectives for the Faro Mine Complex. These five overarching objectives define the desired results of a closure plan, and guide the entire planning and remediation process. The process was designed to be open and transparent, and provide information to support community understanding and involvement.
Closure Objectives for the Faro Mine Complex
- 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.
Since 2003, over 100 technical studies and assessments have taken place in order to characterize the potential environmental issues at the mine site. In addition, a large number of technical workshops with consultants, different levels of government, communities and regulatory agencies have been carried out in order to gather input on different approaches to closure.
In 2005, results of the technical studies and workshops were summarized in a series of 12 sample closure alternatives. These represented the spectrum of what was technically feasible to address the environmental issues present at the site.
The sample alternatives were reviewed by an Independent Peer Review Panel in 2006. The review also included an extensive period of feedback and discussion on specific issues and topics with governments and stakeholders.
Based on the recommendations of the Peer Review Panel, and the outputs of community/government consultation, the 12 sample alternatives were refined into five final closure options.
Community members, technical consultants and governments spent over a year evaluating the short list of five closure options against the project objectives to determine the merits of each option. As a result of the evaluation, the federal, territorial and First Nations governments were able to reach consensus on a preferred option and recommend a closure and remediation plan for the Faro Mine Complex.
A detailed engineering design of the closure and remediation plan must be developed and completed. Once finalized, the closure and remediation plan will undergo environmental assessment and regulatory approvals. The final closure and remediation plan must first be assessed under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act (YESAA) for environmental, social and economic impacts, then receive approval for land and water licences and permits, and finally, secure federal government approval for funding prior to being implemented. It is estimated that these processes could take up to three years. Once achieved, the closure and remediation plan will be implemented.
To monitor progress towards the implementation of a final closure and remediation plan, click on Next Steps.