Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gold mining liabilities left for taxpayers to pay

Gold mining liabilities left
for taxpayers to pay

The Giant Mine was a large gold mine located on the Ingraham Trail just outside of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. Mining operations at Giant Mine over five decades (from 1948 to early 2004) created a massive environmental liability, a problem which the mine's previous owners left to the Canadian and Northwest Territories governments to sort out.

The Giant Mine contains 237,000 t (233,000 LT; 261,000 ST) of arsenic trioxide dust produced during the gold roasting process. This dust is water soluble and contains approximately 60% arsenic. The site's 950 ha (2,300 acres) footprint includes 8 open pits, 4 tailing ponds, 325,000 m3 (11,500,000 cu ft) of contaminated soils, and approximately 100 buildings including a roaster/bag house complex that is highly contaminated with arsenic and fibrous asbestos.

A $200 million (probably more) taxpayer-funded remediation project is underway. A main aspect of the successful proposed solution, known as the "Frozen Block Alternative," is to permanently freeze the arsenic trioxide storage chambers to keep groundwater seepage out.


[1] "Disaster brewing at Giant mine site". (July 10, 2006) news/north p.1
[2] "Giant Mine Remediation Project". Retrieved 2006-07-15.
[3], retrieved 2009-11-19.

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