News: Northern Mine Remediation

 Joint news release with Mitacs, Yukon University, the University of Alberta North and ArcticNet.  

Research funding has been extended for another year to support Yukon’s understanding of the social, cultural, economic, environmental and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mitacs Student Internship Program, which also supports innovation-related research that will benefit the Yukon economy, was launched last year through a partnership between Mitacs, the Government of Yukon, Yukon University, University of Alberta North, and ArcticNet. 

Current research projects include a host of areas important to the North ranging from food and clean water to women’s mental health, with the potential to support other areas with research-based solutions. 

Yukon University welcomes Minto Explorations to the Northern Mine Remediation program’s Yukon Mining Research Consortium. Minto Explorations will be the seventh industrial partner to join the Consortium and the first member operating an active mine in the Territory.  

YukonU’s Northern Mine Remediation program is a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair program dedicated to solving northern mining challenges as identified by the local industrial partners. The Consortium has directed the Chair, Dr. Guillaume Nielsen, to focus the research program on passive water treatment technologies, mine waste management, mine revegetation, and community engagement.  

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. 

It is our pleasure to announce that our very own Dr. Guillaume Nielsen has been awarded the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Northern Mine Remediation, a $900,000 over 5 year term! NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) made the announcement official today in the below media release and can also be found HERE. More details on other institutions can also be found HERE.


We are working with Guillaume and our industrial mining partners to plan a media event in September. Stay tuned!


WHITEHORSE—Research conducted at Yukon College in partnership with Alexco Environmental Group has confirmed that bacteria native to Yukon can efficiently remove heavy metals from mine impacted water in cold climates.

Ph. D. candidate Guillaume Nielsen is the lead author of a paper published recently by Mine Water and the Environment, the journal of the International Mine Water Association (IMWA), detailing the results of a series of experiments conducted at the Yukon Research Centre lab in 2015.

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.

Whitehorse – The Yukon Research Centre (YRC) has released a report on heavy metal concentrations found in fish in the Keno Hill mining district. Information collected from fish ear bones can be used to track heavy metal contaminants and potentially determine the success of environmental remediation.

YRC, Access Consulting Group, and Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation worked with Dr. Norman Halden from the University of Manitoba who developed the technique of fish otolith microchemistry. This technique can determine both contaminant levels as well as life history information on individual fish and populations. Never before used in Yukon, this technique was applied to Arctic Grayling and Slimy Sculpin in the Keno Hill mining district due to the areas long mining history.

Scientists at the Yukon Research Centre have proven that heavy metals can be removed from contaminated mine water with northern constructed wetlands. These results offer a sustainable and cost effective option for mining companies operating in the North. This research was funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Casino Mining Corporation (Casino).

Eight laboratory-scale wetlands were constructed in partnership with Casino to determine whether this passive water treatment system is feasible in a northern climate. Researchers took a multi-disciplinary approach by combining the expertise of soil scientist and plant ecologist, Dr. Katherine Stewart, and aquatic biochemist, Dr. Amelie Janin. The wetlands were able to remove 96% of cadmium, 99% of copper, 79% of selenium, and 97% of zinc concentrations from simulated mine water.

WHITEHORSE – Tony Radford and Jordan Lord have spent the past three weeks testing water treatment technologies at the Yukon Research Centre (YRC) at Yukon College. The two students are seeking to discover which of three methods of removing salts and minerals from water can turn brackish water into potable water most efficiently, while creating the least amount of waste.

The results could significantly reduce the environmental footprint of the mineral resource exploration industry, or any activity that takes place in a remote location and requires a reliable source of clean drinking water. It could also have an impact on Yukon homeowners with brackish well water.

Media Advisory – Yukon Passive Water Treatment Workshop

A workshop on passive water treatment may prompt more Yukon mines to adopt this sustainable approach to remediation. Yukon College researchers, industry, regulators, First Nations, mine reclamation practitioners and land/water managers will learn about this new technology, which focuses on biological treatment (using vegetation and bacteria to uptake heavy metals) to remove impurities from water. The Yukon Research Centre (YRC) will present case studies from around Yukon and facilitate discussions on how to advance the development of passive water treatment in the Territory.
   Where:   Yukon College, 500 College Dr., Whitehorse – Room T1023
   When:    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

11:45AM – 12:00PM Presentation:
Yukon College’s research initiatives to support the local mining industry by Dr. Amelie Janin

The Yukon Research Centre (YRC) has been awarded $150,000 from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to support mine remediation research in the Yukon.

The funding will be used to build pilot-scale bioreactors at various mine sites around the Yukon and to purchase new lab equipment that will further support research in the removal of heavy metals.

Bioreactors contain natural materials like wood, gravel and peat moss that encourage bacteria to grow and eat heavy metals from soil and water. This technique is being tested by YRC researchers and local mines as a form of water treatment in the North.

“Our goal is to develop environmentally sound techniques for Yukon mines and to create scientific evidence that will be accepted by regulators in the mine closure plans”, said Dr. Amelie Janin, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Mine Life Cycle, Yukon Research Centre.

Yukon Research Centre (YRC) scientists have just received a research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to study a new method of sequestering heavy metals for mine site restoration.

Soil scientist, Dr. Katherine Stewart, and water chemist, Dr. Amelie Janin have combined disciplines to examine how to prevent the transfer of heavy metals to plants and water by using leonardite, a naturally occurring carbon-rich mineral. The scientists predict that heavy metals in mine tailings will bond to the leonardite, preventing plant absorption and water transportation of the metals. They also hypothesize that the leonardite will assist in revegetation by retaining nutrients and moisture in the soil, conditions beneficial for plant growth.