Saskatchewan’s environment ministry is continuing work to remediate three long-abandoned mines in areas near Creighton.
Work at the Newcor, Vista and Western Nuclear mine sites is moving ahead, with requests for proposals issued recently for work on all three sites.
“Remediation of Newcor, Vista and Western Nuclear mine sites in the Creighton area is part of a Ministry of Environment program to clean up abandoned, non-uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan,” reads a statement about the projects provided by a ministry spokesperson to The Reminder.
“These are three of six sites identified and prioritised based on risk assessments. Progress continues on all three sites in the Creighton area.”
Work at the Newcor mine site, located on the Douglas Lake road about two kilometres away from Creighton, wrapped up last fall. That work included moving on-site mine waste into three specifically engineered areas, planting native bushes and grass and installing a new concrete cover on the opening to the old mine shaft.
According to the spokesperson, an inspection of the site that took place in June showed that grass seeded at the site was starting to grow, but erosion and pooling surface water at the site will need further work.
As a result, the ministry put out a request for proposals for a company to work on the site, performing long-term maintenance and monitoring. The province expects to pick a contractor this month, estimating that the work will have to take place for at least a decade at the site.
“The contractor will monitor groundwater conditions, complete vegetation surveys and reseed as needed. They will inspect for erosion and recommend repairs, as well as inspect the cover systems,” said the spokesperson.
The ministry is also asking for people to avoid using motor vehicles off the road at the site, especially where grass has been planted, in an effort to ensure the grass grows properly and to avoid erosion.
For the Vista mine, located a few kilometres further down the Douglas Lake road, assessment work was done by SNC-Lavalin on the site last summer, ending with a risk assessment and a corrective action plan for the site.
“The plan included recommended options for site remediation, including covering contaminated materials, treating and dewatering ponds, recontouring the site, addressing mine openings and demolishing old foundation ruins,” said the ministry spokesperson.
Another SNC-Lavalin report came for the Western Nuclear mine site, located on the western shore of Hanson Lake about 90 kilometres west of Creighton. The company was commissioned by the ministry to develop another plan, similar to the Vista one, for the site in spring 2021.
As a result of the two reports, the ministry posted requests for proposals for contractors to prepare final action plans for both mine sites. That call for proposals ended Sept. 7 and no successful contractors have yet been named.
“The work will include engaging with local stakeholders on final plans, preparing engineered specifications for selected options, and finalizing costs to complete the work at both sites in the coming years,” reads the spokesperson’s statement.