Energy, Mines and Resources

Assessment and Abandoned Mines

About abandoned mines

The Assessment and Abandoned Mines branch leads efforts to address environmental issues and liabilities at Yukon’s abandoned mines. This includes managing ongoing site operations (known as care and maintenance) and developing/implementing long-term remediation plans for the general protection of human health and the environment.

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Yukon devolution

On April 1, 2003, Yukon became the first territory to take over land and resource management responsibilities from the Government of Canada in a process known as devolution .

As part of the devolution process, the environmental responsibilities and obligations associated with lands previously managed by the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) were transferred to the Government of Yukon.

At the time of devolution, there were several abandoned mine sites in Yukon. Some specific sites were identified as having or potentially having unfunded environmental liabilities related to remediation (closure). These sites are identified as Type II sites in the Devolution Transfer Agreement [ 1.4 MB].

While the majority of the Type II sites remained under company control in 2003, there were three sites - Faro, Mount Nansen and Clinton Creek  - that were without operators and abandoned without proper remediation.

Government roles and responsibilities

The Government of Yukon is charged with the administrative care and control of the abandoned sites. This means that the territorial government is responsible for managing the site through ongoing care and maintenance operations and for the development and implementation of a remediation plan. The Assessment and Abandoned Mines branch leads and manages all initiatives and activities related to these abandoned mine sites on behalf of the Government of Yukon.

The financial responsibility for the abandoned Type II sites resides with the federal government. It provides 100% of the funding for site care and maintenance operations as well as for the development of long-term remediation plans. This funding is provided through the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan . The federal responsibility is managed through the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) .

The Government of Yukon continues to work with the Government of Canada to ensure that long-term funding is available to expedite the remediation and closure of the historical liabilities of these abandoned sites.

The Devolution Transfer Agreement also identifies specific Yukon First Nations that are affected by the Type II sites. As a result, specific Yukon First Nations actively participate and are consulted in the development of remediation plans for abandoned Type II sites.

Other Type II sites

Within the Devolution Transfer Agreement, 7 sites are identified as Type II sites. Among them is the United Keno Hill Mines, the Ketza River site, the Viceroy Brewery Creek site and the Minto site.

In 2015, the Ketza River mine site was abandoned by its owner who declared bankruptcy. The Government of Yukon took over care and maintenance of the mine site until the federal government assumes responsibility for this pre-devolution Type II site.

These other Type II sites remain under their respective company’s care for maintenance and closure. The companies are working closely with both the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon on closure planning for these historical liabilities.