Scientists share green mining research with Pelly Crossing students

Scientists at the Yukon Research Centre (YRC) are doing more than just publishing their results – they are sharing their knowledge with students at Eliza Van Bibber School in Pelly Crossing. Researchers have arranged a diverse team of experts to expose high school students to different characteristics of constructed wetlands and their valuable role in water purification, a recently proven technique that could be used at mine sites in their traditional territory.

In partnership with Selkirk First Nation (SFN) and Casino Mining Corporation, Dr. Amelie Janin, Yukon College’s NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Mine Life Cycle, is sharing her research with youth so they can benefit from the results.

“Selkirk First Nation strongly supports our students in pursuit of their education and this project is an exciting opportunity for our youth to learn about innovative ways to address today’s challenges in achieving sustainable mining practices”, said Chief Kevin McGinty, Selkirk First Nation. “As stewards of the land, Selkirk has an important role to play in meeting the objective of successful First Nation involvement in responsible mining projects in our Traditional Territory. Incorporating scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge is an important step in this process. Though Selkirk reserves the right to our opinion on whether or not passive water treatment works in mining programs in our Traditional Territory, we recognize the important role of research and innovation.”

Dr. Janin and her team developed a curriculum for these students so they could understand and participate in all aspects of water purification using wetlands. Students have learned the science behind wetland bioremediation but they have also participated in the techniques used to administer the science. The students built a model wetland in their school from which they measured, collected, and analyzed water samples, compared soil samples of constructed versus natural wetlands, and understood the interconnection between many natural components that make up a wetland.

“The dirtier the students got the more they seemed to realize that science is fun  and a tool that they can use to enhance their community”, said Dr. Amelie Janin, IRC in Mine Life Cycle, Yukon College. “Our results can benefit more than just industry and the environment, we can support youth in furthering their education in science, supporting their employability, or providing information that can help them make informed decisions about issues in their community”, said Dr. Janin.

The team of educators was made up of researchers, industry representatives, Elders and SFN members who have been involved in water treatment. The students finish this course work with a presentation at the Selkirk First Nation gathering this May.

"Research is a key part of the responsible development of the Casino Project" said Casino Mining Corp. Senior Environmental Manager Mary Mioska. "Constructed wetlands offer a sustainable and cost effective option to protect the environment in which we are operating. We will continue to work with the Yukon Research Centre to seek partnerships in order to advance environmentally responsible technologies and practices."

For more information on this research, and to see the final report, please visit our website.

The NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Mine Life Cycle is funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Yukon Mining Research Consortium that is made up of Casino Mining Corporation, Alexco Resource Corp., Capstone Mining Corporation, Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd., and Victoria Gold Corporation.