The federal and Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę governments say they have signed a deal that gives Délı̨nę residents “a say in decisions about the clean-up of abandoned mine sites near their homes.”
The agreement covers the Great Bear Remediation Project, which involves cleaning up a collection of eight abandoned mines in the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve east of Délı̨nę.
Wednesday’s signing of the agreement will “allow our two governments to work in partnership to oversee all aspects,” the federal government said in a news release.
The deal creates a remediation management committee to give the clean-up work “broad strategic direction … made by consensus of the two governments.”
It also establishes an operations committee to manage the detail of the project and contains a pledge that Délı̨nę will benefit economically from the work.
“The agreement recognizes a government-to-government relationship between Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government and Canada and commits us to working together to restore the long-damaged area to a state acceptable to Délı̨nę, while ensuring that the project will leave significant social, economic and cultural benefits to our community,” said Leeroy Andre of the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government.
“The remediation project will be good for our community, for our people and, indeed, for all the people of Canada as we restore this magnificent site to preserve the integrity of the biosphere.”
Mines included in the clean-up work are the Silver Bear mines (Terra, Northrim, Norex, Graham Vein, and Smallwood), the Contact Lake mine, the Bonanza mine, and Sawmill Bay.
“Maintaining the ecological integrity of Great Bear Lake and its watershed is of utmost importance to the people of Délı̨nę,” said the federal government.
“As such, the sites will be remediated to a standard that is consistent with the objectives of the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve.”
Seven of the eight are expected to be fully cleaned up in the next 15 years, the federal government said, though all will require some form of continued care and maintenance after that point.
Funding for the work comes from the federal Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation program, which targets abandoned sites in the NWT and Yukon.