Work will continue through the summer and over the next several years at the Steep Rock mine site.
Graeme Swanwick, the MNRF’s executive lead on the rehab project (he’s also DM for the Red Lake district), and project manager Jeff Bonnema met with Council April 3
Now that planners have settled on the concept that will guide the rehabilitation – enhanced natural recovery with gravity flow to the West Arm via the Narrows Dam area – more detailed work plans are being formulated.
A good deal of additional study is needed, said Swanwick, including hydrological and geochemical modelling, investigation of the nature and state of the sediments in the West Arm (this is material removed during the original dredging), and exploration of whether adding water to the pits might improve overall water quality (this work will also involve finding where that extra water might come from).
The rehab committee also wants to study the potential for adding nutrients to the pit lakes, and thus encouraging the growth of plant and fish life.
“We will be doing this work over the next several years, and if [it] doesn’t bear out that the recommended [concept] is a good approach, then we will have to go back [and look at other options],” said Swanwick.
This summer, the rehab team will take a more detailed look at six sites in the mine area where petrochemical contamination has been identified. How can they be best cleaned up?
The A-1 shaft will be capped, and water quality monitoring and road maintenance will continue.
Asked about tree removal on the site, Bonnema said the Ministry has contracted the removal of trees that are in areas that will be flooded, and that nearly all of that work is complete. He added the effort has uncovered a large pile of old tires.
Over the next year or two, the rehab team hopes to install (after an environmental assessment is completed) an overflow pipe at the Fairweather Dam. (This would mean an end to pumping of that lake to allow access to the ski hill.)
Other projects in that near-term time frame include designing a revised Wagita Bay Dam and contracting site surface debris clean-up to a First Nation firm.