SUMMARY/REPORT OF THE AWARDS SUBCOMMITTEE
2009 Presentation of the 2008 Mine Reclamation Awards
2009 Mine Reclamation Awards Presented at the 33rd Annual Mine Reclamation Symposium
September 16, 2009, Cranbrook, British Columbia
The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation celebrated more than three decades of excellence in mine reclamation practices in the Province of British Columbia.
Thirty-three years ago, the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation established a Reclamation Award to recognize outstanding achievement in mine reclamation in British Columbia. In addition to this major award, citations are given to recognize merit in mining reclamation.
The work on which the awards are based may be major or minor in extent, and may be the result of a group or a single person’s activities. These awards may recognize:
For work conducted in 2008, the Awards Committee received 10 excellent nominations in 4 categories. The presentation to the winners occurred at the 2009 Symposium.
ANNUAL BC JAKE MCDONALD MINE RECLAMATION AWARD
The recipient of the 2008 British Columbia Jake McDonald Mine Reclamation award was Teck Highland Valley Copper Partnership for their outstanding reclamation achievements at the Highland Valley Copper Mine.
Multiple end land uses have been planned for the site, including agriculture, wildlife habitat and aquatic habitat. HVC has undertaken significant reclamation and revegetation, and utilized many innovative techniques to create a variety of habitats and enhance biodiversity. Innovations include the widespread application of biosolids to overburden and tailings to improve soil structure and nutrients and this has significantly enhanced productivity. Research has now started into how wood waste addition for local pine beetle impacted forests can be effectively incorporated into reclamation practices.
Research is also on-going into the greater use of native grass species, and revegation strategies are being modified to allow for natural colonization of native species in some areas. An astounding 1.7 million native trees and shrubs have been planted at Highland Valley to date. Deciduous trees are obtained from a local First Nations nursery and include Saskatoon, cottonwood, willow, alder, rose, dogwood, birch and wolf willow. Quick growing hybrid poplars have also been used in riparian areas and other difficult locations.
HVC has successfully created a multitude of habitats. Large grasslands have been established that create forage for ungulates including deer and moose. Grasslands also provide potential opportunities for cattle grazing in the future. Tree and shrub islands and corridors through these grasslands provide travel ways for wildlife as well as cover and forage. Stacked rocks and wood waste have created line of site breaks and shelter, and have also created very important habitat for small mammals such as marmots and pikas. The reclamation plans for talus slopes are now being modified to enhance these populations and increase biodiversity of mine waste areas.
Aquatic reclamation has also been very successful at Highland Valley. Fertilizing and introducing aquatic flora and fauna has encouraged aquatic life and improved water quality in tailings ponds and pit lakes. A successful sport fishery has been established, with community benefits to charity fundraising for the Royal Inland Hospital of more than $170,000 over 14 years.
Perhaps most inspiring is the success HVC has had in creating various bird habitats. More than 192 bird species have been recorded within the mine’s operating area, which equates to more than 50% of all bird species regularly recorded in the entire province of BC. Of those, 147 species have been observed using habitats that resulted from mining disturbance. Overall, the biodiversity of bird species using the area has increased due to the successful creation of open country grassland and wetland species habitats.
Highland Valley Copper has demonstrated leadership in the mining industry by taking an ecosystem approach to mine reclamation and through its work to build various habitats that enhance biodiversity.
2008 METAL MINING CITATION
The Citation for outstanding achievement for reclamation at a metal mine was awarded to Northgate Minerals Corporation for its work at the Kemess South Mine.
The Kemess Mine is located in remote, mountainous terrain, approximately 300 kilometres northwest of Prince George. The mine is situated in the subalpine, where vegetation growth is limited by severe climate and limited soil resources. Approximately 600 ha of disturbed area requires reclamation to an end land use objective of wildlife habitat, and over the past year and a half, Northgate has been working diligently to progressively reclaim and significantly reduce reclamation liabilities prior to final closure.
Northgate’s reclamation approach is unique in its emphasis on landscape preparation and the extensive use of native species. By making the soil rough and loose, overland water flow and erosion is minimized and water retention of soil and the recharge of groundwater systems is enhanced. This strategy has been implemented on 40 hectares on the cyclone sand dam. Resloping was conducted, then 20 to 30 centimeters of overburden was placed and roughened
using an excavator and/or ripped using a dozer to create a rough, hummocky surface. This approach should assist with capturing aerially-dispersed native seeds and also provides favourable microclimates, retaining warmth and moisture for seed germination and survival of shrubs and trees.
Coarse woody debris was spread on the slopes of the dam to encourage microsite development and extensive planting activities were undertaken, including 70,000 lodgepole pine and white spruce seedlings, 5500 willow cuttings harvested locally with the assistance of nearby First Nations and 1000 plugs of arctic lupin. Native seeds have been collected and are being raised in both on-and off-site greenhouses, and large reclamation trials of mid to high elevation native species are on-going using slender wheatgrass, rocky mountain fescue, alpine bluegrass, alpine timothy, spike trisetum, canada milkvetch, and fireweed. Similar reclamation strategies are now being implemented for reclamation of waste rock dumps.
Kemess has also adopted a wide variety of soil bioengineering treatments to address specific problem sites. Live pole drains have been used to treat seepage areas that were causing sloughing, and brush layers and wattle fences have been applied to various sites for control of erosion and establishment of pioneering vegetation.
The strong commitment by Northgate management and staff in using innovative solutions on a very large scale to meet reclamation challenges at Kemess is noteworthy and exemplary.
2008 SPECIAL CITATION – Yankee Girl Tailings
The TRCR awarded a Special Citation to the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands for the reclamation work at the Yankee Girl Tailings.
The 6 hectare historic Yankee Girl Tailings site is located in the town of Ymir, BC. Between 1935 and 1942 tailings generated from the processing of massive sulphide veins from the Yankee Girl mine were disposed directly adjacent to the Salmo River. Responsibility for the site eventually reverted to the crown, and in response to direction issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Crown Land Restoration Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands conducted detailed site investigations and ecological risk assessments which demonstrated potential risks to both human health and the environment. Since removal of all areas of elevated metals was not possible, a risk-based approach was used to develop remedial options that were presented to stakeholders for input, and then a final strategy was chosen.
The selected remedial option involved neutralizing acidic and metal bearing tailings and contaminated soils with commercial lime and 300 tonnes of waste lime from a pulp mill in Castlegar. The tailings were then consolidated under a bentonite-amended soil cover to significantly reduce metal loadings to the Salmo River. To further reduce metal loadings from groundwater seepage, an engineered passive water treatment cell was constructed containing a mixture of pulp fibre, lime and microbial biomass to create sulphate reducing bacteria and precipitate metal sulphides. Erosion control barriers were installed, including bio-engineered fish habitat structures to protect the site from erosion and to help compensate for lost habitat.
Initial post-construction monitoring indicates that the remedial works have successfully managed on-site contamination while achieving significant reductions in metal loadings to the Salmo River. Human health and environmental exposure has been reduced to acceptable levels, and the river has been restored to its natural dynamics and function. As well, added value was created by incorporating community desires into the final site configuration to create a park-like setting accessible by foot, and with a tailings repository shaped like an amphitheatre for concerts and community use.
The entire Yankee Girl remediation team was recognized for completing this complex and interdisciplinary remediation work on a tight timeline. The team consisted of the Ministry of Agriculture & Lands, SNC-Lavalin Environment Inc., SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc., Quantum Murray LP, Masse & Miller Consulting Ltd. and Interior Reforestation Co. Ltd.
2008 COAL MINING CITATION
The Citation for outstanding achievement for reclamation at a coal mine was awarded to Teck Coal Ltd. for its work on the 1944 spoil at the Coal Mountain Operations.
Coal Mountain Operations is one of five Teck operated coal mines in the Elk River Valley. The 1944 spoil is 21.6 hectares in size, located at 1960 meters of elevation. The dump includes various slope aspects, including the southwestern slope which is windswept and one of the most challenging reclamation sites at the mine. Resloping was undertaken between 2006 and 2008 and extra effort was given to create a diversity of habitat such as large rock piles, rolling terrain and several small knolls and microsites.
Revegetation efforts began in 2007 and have focused extensively on the use of native species. Currently 15 different native species, totaling more than 52,000 seedlings, have been utilized on the 1944 spoil and all are demonstrating successful establishment. Species selected include lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir, black cottonwood, upland willow, red osier dogwood, trembling aspen, rose, dwarf birch, wolf willow, sitka alder, saskatoon, kinnikinnick, false azalea and elderberry.
Coal Mountain conducts native seed collection and maintains an ongoing research program. Part of the research includes investigation and inventories of adjacent natural sites to determine which species are best suited for site specific reclamation purposes. The aim is to extrapolate what is learned to other exposed and even higher elevation areas at the mine.
Coal Mountain is commended for its on-going and excellent efforts in reclaiming the 1944 dump.
2008 SPECIAL CITATION – Lakeview Dividend Mine
The TRCR awarded a Special Citation to the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for the reclamation of the Lakeview Dividend site.
The Lakeview Dividend Mine is an abandoned gold mine located immediately adjacent to the Township of Osoyoos, BC. Ongoing residential development adjacent to the mine site and relatively open access to the site posed significant safety concerns which prompted the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources to initiate reclamation work.
The site contained extensive underground workings and a large “glory hole” where the stope had partially collapsed to surface. As well, large overhangs were associated with mined out pockets
of ore and a hanging wall supported by slender, 10 m pillars of weak rock. Ore passes within the glory hole extended down to haulage drifts below and were open or partially blocked, and the underground workings contained caved areas, unmarked open shafts, and areas supported with deteriorated timber.
In addition to the myriad of public safety issues, it was also noted that the mine adits provided day time and over-wintering habitat for several blue listed endangered species of bats including Townsend’s big-eared bat, Western small-footed Myotis and also a red listed endangered species called the Palid bat. Thus the remediation plan also had to maintain climate and ventilation conditions within the adits to preserve bat habitat.
Due to residents’ concerns with blasting, the glory hole was filled with 30,000 cubic meters of rock fill from an adjacent residential development that was hauled without use of public roads, and with additional rock broken from the perimeter of the glory hole using rock breakers. Slope stabilization work was done to protect houses below using rock breakers, scaling bars, jacks and pneumatic splitters. The area was then sloped and contoured to match the surrounding topography and 20 to 30 centimetres of imported topsoil was seeded and fertilized with an erosion control mix that would not compete with native species colonizing the cover. Custom built bat gates were installed in three adit entrances, and a cover for a ventilation raise was constructed to prevent tampering from the public, and maintain the pre-existing convective air flow into the underground workings.
The Lakeview Dividend remediation project had a tight winter construction schedule, and the project was completed on time over seven months, below the estimated cost and without safety incidents or injury. The entire project team was recognized for innovation and the overall success of the project. The team consisted of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd., Knight’s Heavy Haul, B.A.T. Construction and WEB Manufacturing.
2008 MINERAL EXPLORATION CITATION
The Citation for outstanding achievement for reclamation at a mineral exploration site was awarded to Selkirk Metals Corp. for their work on the Catface property.
The Catface property is located 15 kilometres northwest of the town of Tofino, in the highly sensitive Clayoquot Sound region of coastal Vancouver Island. Selkirk Metals Corp. undertook an eight hole exploration drill program in the summer of 2008 to advance their porphyry copper project.
The exploration program consisted of transporting all drilling and ancillary equipment, camp and fuel from Tofino by barge to a landing site at Hecate Bay. From there, all materials and personnel were transported by helicopter to the camp and drilling locations near the top of Catface Mountain. The camp was located on an old existing road and all trails and clearing were done by hand labour to keep vegetation disturbance to the absolute minimum necessary to accomplish the job. Each drill site had a water collection and sediment structure in place prior to drilling and water quality was monitored during the drilling work.
At the end of the program, all drill holes were capped with concrete to prevent water overflow and were then covered. All drill platforms and helipads were removed, except for one that was retained at the request of the Ahousaht First Nation to be used for camping and hunting purposes. All materials were removed from the exploration property and all useable construction materials and consumables were donated and delivered to the local First Nation for their use. The Ahousaht First Nation inspected and approved the final reclamation results, noting that the work was completed in an excellent environmentally sound manner with minimum area of disturbance in a difficult area to operate. The First Nation was also especially appreciative of the efforts the company made in hiring 75% of their crew from the Ahousaht First Nation.
The exploration and reclamation programs at Catface were thoughtfully planned, well executed and it is a superb example of the positive benefits of co-operative working relationships.
LAST YEAR’S WINNER
It is an annual tradition to present a “keeper trophy” to last year’s recipient of the British Columbia Mine Reclamation Award, for the safe return of the coveted “jade trophy”.
Last year’s winner of the Award was Inmet Mining Corporation for outstanding reclamation efforts at the Samatosum mine.
2009 TRCR MEMBERS