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032513 Gold Diamonds and Other Mineral Resources.docx

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Ryerson University
GEO 605
David Atkinson

GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North 032513 Gold, Diamonds, and Other Mineral Resources • Three types of rock formations • Each rock has different minerals (i.e. hydrocarbons in sedimentary rocks) o Diamonds formed from carbon in meimorfic rocks what were compressed under heat • Different geological provinces with different types of rock formations • Slave geological province has the most mining and mineral extractions • Have not found minerals in the north, such as Baffin Island, because rock formation is not consistent with rock formations in the southern provinces • Placer mining: gravel pits to look for gold • Base metals need to be concentrated and need an extensive quantity to make them marketable MINING CASE STUDIES • Case 1 - Polaris, Nansivik, Lupin o Arctic Mining • Case 2 - Colomac and Giant Gold Mines o Mine Reclamation • Case 3 - Canadian Diamonds Ekati o Sustainable Mining through Agreements • Case 4 - Northern Base Metals o Need for investment CASE 1 NANISIVIK • 1976-2002: Zinc Lead Mine o Located near Baffin Island with high elevations and is near the community of Arctic Bay o Certain minerals are found together • Adjacent to Arctic Bay; Nanisivik is the Company Town o Connection to the coast because of deep water ports to take the ores to market • Town completely removed o Resources removed and only thing left is the deep water port and airport o Must remove all infrastructure because must return the land • Deep Water Port is to be used as Arctic Naval Base • Airport o Left as air terminal POLARIS • Located on an Island near Resolute Bay o Community does benefit from mining operations, including employment opportunities and business opportunities (i.e. they have two hotels int he town) o A lot of shipping and freight routes for food o The loss of the mine has changed the community, but has brought in military training facilities and research facilities • 1981-2002: Zinc mine • Employed over 250 people o Only 20 were from Northern Canada  Need employees who know how to operate machinery and have the mining skills  Mining companies are not required to offer training to their employees o 30% of resolute employment linked to the mine • Joe Clark Waived the EA if they shipped the ore using federally owned icebreaker NV Arctic GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North o Completely bypassed environmental assessment o Cost so much to transfer things down back to the south so they buried the infrastructure LUPIN • Gold mine that operated on the shores of Koyto Lake (?) in the 1980s • Operations stopped around 2004 • One main ice road to service the current diamond mine • Majority of employees were not from the North – therefore, money and resources are not going into the Northern communities • Price is related to the extraction costs for operation to be economically feasible o Gold prices have shot up and renewed interests for gold operations in the north to reopen Lupin o Infrastructure is still there because there is a potential for other operations nearby CASE 2 COLOMAC MINE • Example of large site with single over-ride problem o Open pit mining o For any mining operation in the North is diesel fuel  It provides power (electricity) and operating vehicles  Must be kept running 24/7 to keep the heat running because diesel fuel thickens up in the cold and no longer works • Tailings area contained high cyanide waters, now contaminated with ammonia o Gold is in the rock; extract it by crushing rock and use chemicals to extract the gold o Using cyanide (toxic) to extract the gold, extra chemical placed in storage pond which eventually leaks o The white in the satellite image represents the storage pond; the adjacent black spots represents contaminated lakes • 2007: tailing pond will be full o Even after operations stopped, it filled up o The dam was predicted to overfill • Ammonia degradation may not be sufficient by then o Naturally degrades and breaks down to a toxic level until about 2009 which would be sufficient • Main dam is of questionable construction; high rate of seepage o Leakage under the dam • Environmental factors: (various stakeholders) o Environmental protection o Human health and safety – for whoever lives there and workers who have to clean up the mess o Local Aboriginal acceptance o Other public acceptance o Cost o Long-term effectiveness o Technical certainty o Corporate (Canadian Government) objectives • Alternative evaluation o Enhanced natural removal ($8-$20 million)  Using bacteria and other wetland techniques to remove the ammonia o Rapid treatment ($38-$50 million)  Mechanically and chemically process the tailings o Tailing relocation ($30-$100 million)  Relocating to safer location • Alternative selection GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North o Federal government and aboriginal community agree that enhanced natural removal plus water management is the preferred alternative  Fix the dam and increase natural protection  Utilized Colomac as training facility for mining for Aboriginals for mining operation and mine reclamations GIANT MINE • Located on the outskirts of Yellowknife • Mining from 1948 to 2005/2006 – also owned by Royal Oak (filed for bankruptcy) • Ore roasting process released arsenic vapors captured as dust • Now 237,000 tones of arsenic trioxide dust o Extracted the gold by smashing the rocks and melting the gold which left the dust • Example of very large site with complex problems o All problems required remediation because of its close proximity to Yellowknife • Dust now stored in 14 underground chambers and stopes o Storing trioxide dust back into the mines • Dust is very soluble 4000mg/L arsenic o Dust concentrates into dust when there are no longer pumps to drain out the water • Also contains gold ~ 0.5oz/ton • Evaluation factors o From public workshops  Risk • Risk of arsenic releases during implementation • Risk of arsenic releases over long term • Worker health and safety  Net cost • Capital and operating costs • Revenue from sale and gold or arsenic • Cost uncertainties • Alternatives – two broad groups o Leave it underground  Continue to pump the water to keep the arsenic dry (not a long term solution)  Freezing – stops water from moving in or out  Disposal – not interact with surface water o Take it out  Encapsulate – trap in a permanent form using cement • Frozen block o Construct freezing plant and pipes that would freeze under chamber o Using pipes to freezes the surrounding o Potential problem is global warming that melts permafrost CASE 3 CANADIAN DIAMONDS • Canada is now the world’s third largest producer of rough diamonds o Marketing diamonds by branding it as Canadian o
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