Discovery mine finally healing
Environmental monitoring will tell the tale

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 04/99) - After Discovery Mines Ltd. shut down in 1968, the owners walked away leaving one million tonnes of uncontained mercury-laden tailings in their wake.

Now, 30 years later, a cap is being constructed to stop the tailings from further contaminating the surrounding area.

North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) was contracted to oversee the environmental monitoring program surrounding the project. George Greyeyes has been visiting the site, on request of the NSMA, since the project began.

"The reason we're here is because common sense was ignored for the dollar," Greyeyes said of Discovery.

"The mine owners knew the tailings were highly toxic, but they spread them on the land and pumped them into the lake."

If the capping project fails, Greyeyes is concerned about further contamination on the water system Giauque Lake is connected to.

"If the contaminants there aren't contained, at some level they would make it into Yellowknife River -- maybe not right away, but in future generations," Greyeyes said.

Wayne Bryant, of Bryant Environmental Consultants Ltd., was hired by the NSMA to co-ordinate the environmental monitoring program.

"There was a number of possible solutions looked at (to deal with the tailings) and the belief is this capping process will be the most effective in the long-term," Bryant said.

After the cap is done, it's hoped Mother Nature will take care of the rest. But it won't happen overnight.

"It'll take maybe 20 to 25 years to see any significant improvements," Bryant said.