The Saskatchewan government has a price tag for cleaning up an abandoned northern mine.
The provincial government is paying two companies roughly $1.6 million to remediate the former Newcor gold mine near Creighton. QM Points LP, a joint venture between QM Environmental and Points Athabasca Contracting, will receive $1,363,000, while SNC-Lavalin will get $242,000 to remediate the site.
Newcor is one of six non-uranium mines the province has prioritized for cleanup. Two of those, the Vista and Western Nuclear sites, are also a stone’s throw away from Creighton in the province’s northeast.
Newcor is considered the highest-risk site, due to its proximity to Creighton and Douglas Lake, a Ministry of Environment spokeswoman said.
Since 2019, the province has paid at least $504,000 to SNC-Lavalin to study underground mine sites, including $104,000 approved in February that covered costs related to COVID-19, temporarily closing a mine shaft, and further planning and information gathering. That’s on top of a $200,000 deal in June in which the province tapped the firm to develop an action plan and determine a long-term timeline for Vista mine’s remediation.
The province is responsible for 33 non-uranium abandoned mines in northern Saskatchewan, ranging from high-priority sites to small exploration shafts and trenches.
Newcor sits on the eastern shore of Douglas Lake, about three kilometres southwest of Creighton. Activity started on the site with the discovery of gold in 1933. Mining continued there until at least the late 1940s, according to a 2012 report prepared for the Ministry of Energy and Resources.
Environmental standards and accountability weren’t well established when the mine was developed, and the responsible parties aren’t available for cleanup. However, the site is on Crown land, which leaves the province to manage the site’s remediation, Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Val Nicholson said in a prepared statement.
Remediation will begin this month and is scheduled to be completed by the end of October. Work will include a permanent concrete cover over the mine shaft opening. Vegetated soil and an engineered geotextile liner will also cover contaminated waste rock. The work aims to stop contaminants from entering Douglas Lake, Nicholson said.
The site has been defunct for years and is cluttered with concrete, Creighton Mayor Bruce Fidler said.
The municipality isn’t directly involved with the remediation project, but the site’s proximity may be an opportunity for local businesses and labour, Fidler said.
“We’re definitely looking forward to having these projects, and improving the environment,” he added.
“We hope it will be (brought) back to nature where people go and walk around and enjoy the area without stumbling over old broken cement.”
Visit QM’s Remediation Web Page: https://www.qmenv.com/expertise/environmental-remediation/
Visit Points Athabasca Web Page: https://qmpoints.com/