Meeting our stewardship obligations for shared water resources

April 17, 2018


Protecting the quality of water we share with local communities is a key aspect of our water stewardship efforts.

Our new Meliadine project sits beneath the permanently frozen tundra of Canada’s sub-Arctic territory of Nunavut. This presents some unique challenges because mining will take place under this permafrost, and the groundwater that flows beneath it is naturally very salty – in fact, it is ancient sea water that has been trapped under the permafrost for millennia.

In 2018, the environmental team at Meliadine developed a long-term saline water management plan to ensure that any water that is pumped to surface from underground, to keep the working areas dry, and then discharged into Melvin Bay, is properly treated and meets all water quality requirements.

Melvin Bay is a salt water environment which is part of Hudson Bay and flows into the Arctic Ocean. The Canadian federal Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) required that the discharge be non-toxic to fish but only stipulated the test on freshwater fi sh. We needed to show non-toxicity to marine water fish, which necessitated a change in the Canadian federal MMER to allow a test on a marine water fish. With the new Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulation that included this new test, the Meliadine mine can proceed to discharge the treated water to Hudson Bay.

Meliadine has now completed the construction of its saline water treatment plant, which is designed to remove or reduce the salt concentration in water pumped from underground. The mine is currently building additional storage capacity, in the event that more groundwater is encountered than anticipated.

“Water stewardship for Agnico Eagle focuses on reducing the ecological effects from our effluent discharges into any receiving waterbodies,” says Nancy Duquet-Harvey, Environmental Superintendent – Nunavut. “This plan helps us meet our stewardship obligations and was developed in collaboration with community stakeholders following extensive consultation sessions.”