Canada’s orphan mines legacy of harm in Hudson Bay basin
Sherridon Community Town Hall meeting call for support and action
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TORONTO, December 11, 2023 – Sherridon Community Council (Manitoba) is holding a public town hall meeting to discuss the impact of heavy metal contaminated water from Sherridon Orphaned Mine Remediation Project on community water and fish habitat. The public meeting will take place Tuesday December 12, 2023, from 3:30 to 6:30 CST. The community presentation and audio of the public discussion will be re-broadcast live and recorded by WaterToday Media Group with permission via Webex – see below for links.
Sherridon Orphaned Mine Remediation Project, a priority under the National Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Initiative, is managed by the Province of Manitoba. In 2009, highly oxidized and acidic mine tailings were submerged in Camp Lake. According to the Project design and annual reporting documents, established best practise was applied for long-term control of acid and contaminants expected continually produced by the mine wastes.
Project management has continually asserted the remediation project work is progressing according to plan, that reported water quality results are acceptable and pose no risk to community drinking water supply or recreational water users. Community members say impacted water bodies have been damaged and continue to show unacceptable negative impacts, the details of which will be brought forward at the December 12 public meeting.
The Sherridon Orphaned Mine Remediation Project 2021 Annual Water Quality Report for 2021 cannot be quoted here due to copyright. The Deputy Mayor Sheryl Matheson has the right to reference the document, and will share the pertinent information disclosing risk to resident fish habitat from the measured levels of heavy metal contamination consistently above Manitoba water objectives for the project. The risk to fish habitat has not been assessed or studied; at least two access to information law requests to Canada Fisheries and Oceans have turned up no environmental assessments completed for fish habitat based on the measured outcomes and impacts of the project as it has been deployed.
Media Engagement History:
CBC engaged in 2015 to report the community’s concern for downstream water quality. Again in 2017, CBC reported on the community’s loss of trust in the process, showing Camp Lake having the appearance of “tomato soup”. In 2019, WaterToday.ca reported water tests presented by project team breached the project’s established water quality parameters while the community called for appropriate responsive action to stop the discharge of heavy metal-contaminated water downstream, to no avail. In fall 2021, Winnipeg Free Press ran an article drawing attention to serious concerns with the lakes around Sherridon. The Manitoba Metis Federation visited Sherridon and took water samples for independent lab analysis, issuing a statement calling for action to clean up the mess created by the project. In 2022, the community raised the alarms again as contaminated water backed up into the fish spawning creek.
In fall 2023, after three years of low water levels and two years of backflow from the tailings lake into fish spawning territory the community is determined to take action protecting fish habitat and drinking water supply, and to forestall further negative impacts of the project downstream. Any organization with a stake in the Hudson Bay basin, or water quality matters is invited to witness this community meeting.
Sherridon Community Council – Deputy Mayor Sheryl Matheson 204-923-0332 firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Resident – Debi Hatch 204-468-2128 email@example.com
Province of Manitoba – Trevor Sims Trevor Sims, MBA P.Eng. Manitoba Environment, Climate and Parks 204.915.5233 Trevor.Sims@gov.mb.ca
For more information on this release, contact Gillian Ward tel 416 931 5867 firstname.lastname@example.org
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- Moncur, Ptacek and Blowes, 2015 “The former Sherritt–Gordon sulfide deposit in Sherridon, Manitoba, Canada, was mined for zinc, copper, silver, and gold between 1930 and 1951. Since mine closure, two high-sulfide tailings impoundments underwent extensive oxidation, resulting in the release of very high concentrations of dissolved sulfate and metals to the tailings porewater. During precipitation events and Spring freshet, surface seeps develop along the flanks of the impoundments, discharging groundwater with a pH as low as 0.39 and dissolved concentrations of sulfate and iron up to 203 g and 68 g respectively, along with other metals at elevated concentrations.” [i]
- Camp Lake site map https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Site-map-of-the-former-Sherritt-Gordon-mine-showing-locations-of-the-tailings_fig5_308191101
- National Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Initiative https://abandoned-mines.org/ Orphaned or abandoned mines are those mines for which the owner cannot be found or for which the owner is financially unable or unwilling to carry out clean-up. They pose environmental, health, safety and economic problems to communities, the mining industry and governments in many countries, including Canada.
- 4. Northern Manitoba community worried polluted water will be drained into lake: Residents of Kississing are upset about their quality of lake water being downgraded CBC News · Posted: Jul 15, 2015 5:45 PM EDT Last Updated: July 15, 2015
- 5. 'No trust whatsoever': Northern Manitoba community wants consultation, not action, on mine rehabilitation CBC News Posted: Aug 07, 2017 Last Updated: Aug 07, 2017 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-sherridon-mine-rehabilitation-1.4236470
- Community of Sherridon questions authorities as tailings lake discharges downstream - WaterToday.ca posted Dec 28, 2019 https://www.watertoday.ca/ts-mines-sherridon-orphan-mine-reclamation-community-questions-authorities-as-tailings-lake-discharge-downstream.asp
- MMF finds concerning metal concentrations in Camp and Kississing Lakes, September 23, 2021 https://www.mmf.mb.ca/news/mmf-finds-concerning-metal-concentrations-in-camp-and-kississing-lakes
- Winnipeg Free Press: Contamination concerns bubble up at Manitoba lakes By: Dylan Robertson Posted: 7:24 PM CDT Monday, Oct. 25, 2021Last Modified: 5:31 PM CDT Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 | Updateshttps://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/2021/10/25/contamination-concerns-bubble-up-at-manitoba-lakes
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[i] The Canadian Mineralogist Vol. 53, pp. 961-977 (2015) DOI: 10.3749/canmin.1500092 THE OCCURRENCE AND IMPLICATIONS OF EFFLORESCENT SULFATE MINERALS AT THE FORMER SHERRITT–GORDON Zn–Cu MINE, SHERRIDON, MANITOBA, CANADA M ICHAEL C. MONCUR §, C AROL J. PTACEK, AND D AVID W. BLOWES, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada