The site is in the traditional territory of First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun.
There is a rich and storied history of exploration and mining in the Keno Hill mining camp, dating back to the early 1900’s. The initial interest in prospecting for gold soon turned to silver with the discovery of very high-grade silver veins typical of the area.
Since the early 1900s, more than 200 Moz of silver was mined from more than 30 small scale mines across the 28 km long Keno Hill Silver District. These were eventually brought together under one company, United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. (UKHM), which operated until 1989 when it finally closed.
Maintenance of the forsaken district then became the responsibility of the Yukon Government and the Federal Government. The Government of Canada declared the UKHM site abandoned in 2001, forging the path for an innovative commercial model; encouraging the mining industry to apply their knowledge to reclamation, while generating revenue from this brownfields site.
Alexco purchased the site in 2006 and formed the Elsa Reclamation and Development Company Ltd. (ERDC). ERDC then became responsible for all compliance with the Water Licence, for Care and Maintenance for the historical UKHM site, and to develop and implement a Reclamation Plan for the historical liabilities.
This novel approach is a public-private partnership with the governments of First Nation Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Canada (CIRNAC) and Yukon, actively working together since 2006.
The overall purpose of the reclamation is to change an abandoned mine with environmental liabilities, to safe and stable reclaimed site with minimal long-term care & maintenance.
Successful reclamation will mean meeting a range of objectives agreed with the stakeholders, to reduce the long-term environment, health, and safety risks at the site while respecting the rich heritage of 100 years of mining and exploration.
The reclamation work will include closing the old mine openings to prevent injury and access, consolidation and covering of old tailings, contouring of rock piles, reclamation of disturbed ground, and water treatment to reduce the release of dissolved metals into the water courses. This includes the implementation of in situ treatment, enhancing natural processes to treat water underground.
ERDC reached a major milestone in July 2020, with the completion of the impact assessment of the reclamation plan, under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) process. The next step on the path to implementation is through Yukon Water Board’s licensing process to obtain a Type B Quartz Water Licence for the reclamation.
Consultation and stakeholder engagement has been a primary consideration from the beginning of the closure planning process.
Alexco has in place a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement (CCBA) that addresses the importance and commitment of consultation and engagement between Alexco/ERDC and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun (FNNND), not only in the development of the closure planning process, but across all facets of activities in the District.Maintenance of the forsaken district then became the responsibility of the Yukon Government and the Federal Government. The Government of Canada declared the UKHM site abandoned in 2001, forging the path for an innovative commercial model; encouraging the mining industry to apply their knowledge to reclamation, while generating revenue from this brownfields site.