YukonU begins four-year mine revegetation research
WHITEHORSE, YT— Yukon University has launched a four-year research program to explore the revegetation of northern mine sites with native plants. In partnership with the University of Alberta, researchers will work with Yukoners to understand their vision of mine restoration and develop revegetation techniques to support this vision.
YukonU’s Northern Mine Remediation program works on research projects relevant to the needs of their industrial research partners, six Yukon mining companies known as the Yukon Mining Research Consortium. Mine revegetation research has been identified as an area of importance as there is very little information on this topic relevant to the North. Dr. Guillaume Nielsen, the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation will work with PhD candidate Krystal Isbister to develop a research program, in partnership with mining company Newmont, based at the proposed Coffee project site in central Yukon. Isbister hopes to work with First Nations and local communities to incorporate their vision of mine restoration into the revegetation experiments.
“Mine revegetation success is too often defined by technical experts and we want to take a different approach by incorporating the views of those who will live with the land once the mine is closed,” said Dr. Guillaume Nielsen. “We want to know which plants the community wants to see after mine closure and design our experiments around the community's vision of mine restoration.”
Revegetation is a challenge in the North due to a short growing season and a lack of information on how to establish native plants on disturbed sites. This research will explore techniques for establishing native plants with various methods including the use of natural and human-made shelters to protect and support the seedlings.
Newmont recognizes the value in supporting Yukon-specific revegetation research, says the Coffee Project’s Environmental Superintendent, Jennie Gjertsen. “We are excited to work with scientists and researchers at YukonU, as well as with local communities, to explore innovative approaches to mine reclamation that can improve revegetation outcomes across the North. While Coffee is still an exploration site, we want to demonstrate to our First Nation partners, regulators and other stakeholders that improved revegetation results can be achieved through science-based enhancements.”
Isbister will spend the next few years working with locals and YukonU students to help with the experiments at the site. She will also develop opportunities for knowledge-sharing, such as a seed collecting workshop, so that local, traditional and scientific knowledge can be incorporated into the project.
The results of this research program will be made public and are not only of interest to Yukon mining companies but to several Yukon businesses who are interested in establishing nurseries to supply native plant seedlings for mine revegetation.
This research program is funded by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Mitacs, and the Yukon Mining Research Consortium (Newmont Corporation, Victoria Gold Corp., BMC Minerals Ltd., Casino Mining Corp., Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. and Alexco Resource Corp., and Minto Explorations).
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