Marking a year of progress in cleaning up Canada's Northern contaminated sites 

News release

April 1, 2021 — Saint Boniface, Manitoba — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The health and safety of Canadians and the protection of our environment are priorities for the Government of Canada.

Today, the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, marked the one-year anniversary of the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, recognizing the progress made with Indigenous, territorial, and community partners to advance long-term clean-up plans for contaminated sites in the North.

The Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program is responsible for the remediation of the eight largest abandoned mine projects in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. While these eight projects have largely been in care, maintenance and remediation planning for several years, a number of projects have achieved important milestones since the Program's launch.

In 2021–2022, early remediation works are planned to begin on the Giant Mine Remediation Project in the Northwest Territories and the United Keno Hill Mines Remediation Project in the Yukon. The other six projects will continue to move closer to the beginning of remediation after reaching various planning and regulatory milestones. These include critical work that is essential to protecting human health and safety as well as the environment, such as the recently completed realignment of the North Fork of Rose Creek, and plans to advance phase one of the Down Valley Surface Water Interception System, both at Faro Mine.

In addition, over the past year, governance agreements have been advanced on the Ketza River and Great Bear Lake projects, allowing affected First Nations to have a greater say in major decisions about the clean-up of abandoned mine sites near their communities. Strategies have been co-developed with partners on a number of projects to promote employment, training and business opportunities for Indigenous peoples and Northerners.

Canada supports the full involvement of Indigenous partners in the management and remediation of Northern Contaminated Sites and continues to ensure that its investment in the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program fully benefits populations located in proximity to its contaminated sites.

Quotes

 "There has been a tremendous amount of progress made as we mark the first anniversary of the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program. This initiative is supporting Canada's long-term commitment to improving the human, environmental and socio-economic health and well-being of Northern communities. Now is a moment to recognize the progress and collaboration we have made with territorial, Indigenous, and community partners, and the private sector, to advance the clean-up of contaminated sites in the North."

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs 

Quick facts

  • The Northern Contaminated Sites Program is responsible for the management of 156 contaminated sites in the North. Since April 2020, the Northern Contaminated Sites Program has received funding from two sources: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada's Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program and the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, a horizontal initiative led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat ($188 million over five years).

  • Budget 2019 invested $2.2 billion over 15 years in the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, which allows for longer-term work tenders at the sites. This provides greater certainty for impacted communities and more economic opportunity for Indigenous people and Northerners.

  • The Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program is responsible for the remediation of the eight largest and highest-risk abandoned mines, including

    • Yukon: Faro, United Keno Hill, Mount Nansen, Ketza River, and Clinton Creek; and
    • Northwest Territories: Giant, Cantung and the Great Bear Lake group of sites. 
  • Although 2020–2021 statistics for the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program will not be available until data is provided by contractors in July, the Northern Contaminated Sites Program has collected the following socio-economic statistics for its work in the North more broadly:

    • Employment (2005–2006 to 2019–2020): provided over 10,700 jobs to Northerners, with 30 percent accrued by Indigenous people.
    • Training (2005–2006 to 2019–2020): 210,000 hours to Northerners, with 70 percent going to Indigenous people.
    • Economic Opportunities (2005–2006 to 2019–2020): awarded more than $511 million in contracts to Northern companies, with $464 million to Indigenous companies, representing 53 percent of the total value of contracts awarded.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Antoine Tremblay
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs
819-953-1153

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

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