Alexco working to remediate image at mine site near Keno City


Staff member
By Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The jury is still out. After a spat of bad inspection reports, a bit of media attention, letters to the editor and opposition party questions in the legislature, Yukon-based Alexco Resources is attempting to clean up, catch up and fix things.
They are motivated. Theirs has been an ambitious project from the very start. In 2006, Alexco’s Elsa Reclamation and Development arm (ERDC) purchased nearly 50 historic and abandoned mine sites in the Keno Hill area with the promise of reclamation and remediation, while keeping an eye on mineral development in an area proving to still be rich in mineral resources.
That mineral richness is buried beneath a swath of 16,720 hectares, assessed as contaminated, and dotted with rotting buildings, wet adits (level entries into mountain sides), slumping mine shafts, plus an abundance of unknown and still unidentifiable environmental liabilities, all couched within the Stewart Valley’s vistas, once filled with wildlife and fish.

Follow the money
There is money to help with the company’s reclamation activities.
Keno Hill is one of the eight contaminated mine sites identified for work under the $2.2 billion Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program for eight projects over the next 15 years. So far over $100 million has been spent on the site.
The 715-page Reclamation and Closure Plan for Keno District Mine Operations has been 10 years in the making. Their application has recently passed the “information adequacy” phase of the Yukon Water Board process and will soon be before the board with a public consultation period to follow.
For the last decade, Alexco Resources and its three divisions — exploration, mine development and reclamation — have managed activities at eight locations in the area.
Five sites are currently under care and maintenance by Alexco’s ERDC — the Galekeno 300, Galekeno 900, Silver City, Valley Hills and Onek; and three sites are actively mined by the operations side of the company — Bellekeno, Flame and Moth, and Birmingham. Rocks from those three active mines are transported to their mill where the rocks are processed. Lead concentrate mixed with silver is shipped to Trail, B.C. to be processed and separated once again.
During full operations, the mill operates with a huge crusher, three ball mills, banks of flotation tanks and drying filters 24 hours a day, except for the crusher. And up to 200 workers live in a camp near Elsa. Most of the contentious relations between the company and local residents flows from...continued

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