Canada’s Giant Mine clean-up costs to increase by ‘millions’

Clean-up costs at the abandoned Giant Mine near Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, could increase by millions and delay work by years if the federal clean-up team is forced to address the 27 conditions imposed by a northern review board in June.

In a report discussed in the legislature Monday, Canada’s federal government said six of those recommendations are of “significant concern”, CBC reports:

For instance, the government estimates that moving Baker Creek away from the mine site would cost between $25 and $45 million, having an oversight group could cost up to $800,000 a year, and conducting a human health assessment could take three to four years. They say the delays could cost up to $100 million, on top of the nearly billion-dollar price tag.

The main environmental hazard at the deserted gold mine is the 237,000 tonnes of highly toxic arsenic trioxide dust stored in 15 underground chambers, a by-product of decades of gold mining.

Experts say the amount is so high that it would be enough to kill every human in the world. Consequently, clean-up work is so dangerous that buildings will have to be sealed off as they are demolished, while workers would have to wear full hazmat suits and breathe supplied air.

Now is up to the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs to decide how the clean up should proceed.

The Giant Mine remediation project is funded out of a federal program for contaminated sites. Beginning in 2005, a total of $3.6 billion over 15 years has been earmarked for the program.

Image from Wikimedia Commons