Authors: Berthelot, DS; Place-Hoskie, D; Willems, D; Black, K

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Berthelot, DS, Place-Hoskie, D, Willems, D & Black, K 2019, 'Elliot Lake, Ontario uranium mines a legacy perpetual care case study', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2019: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 1151-1164,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

Twelve uranium mines were opened in the vicinity of Elliot Lake, Ontario Canada between 1955 and 1958. In the early 1960s, eight of these mines were acquired and amalgamated to form Rio Algom Limited (RAL), now a subsidiary of BHP. During the 1960s only two mines were operational with remaining mines placed in care and maintenance. Two mines were reactivated and one expanded in the late 1970s and subsequently closed between 1990 and 1996. This construction and operating history produced eight tailings management areas with 102 Mt of tailings (range of 0.08 to 46 Mt), covering 920 ha (range of 13 ha to 400 ha) and various cover configurations (water, vegetated and combinations thereof). As part of the federal environmental assessment review process for closure, all facilities were subject to cost-benefit analysis to select final closure configuration. Closure was implemented at all facilities between 1992 and 2000 to meet then best practice for nuclear waste facilities. This paper will provide a 20-year post-closure perspective of water management, water treatment and watershed performance and key learnings for these perpetual care facilities.

Keywords: closure, perpetual care, legacy sites, water management, water treatment

Beak International Incorporated (Beak) 1999, Serpent River Watershed Monitoring Program Framework Document, Brampton.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) 1996, Decommissioning of Uranium Mine Tailings Management Areas in the Elliot Lake Area, report of the Environmental Assessment Panel, Ottawa.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) 2002, Environmental Assessment Screening Report Possession and Management of Waste Nuclear Substances at Spanish American, Milliken, Lacnor, Nordic/Bucles, and Pronto Historical Properties in the Elliot Lake Area, Ontario, Ottawa.
EcoMetrix Incorporated 2011, Acidity Release Controls at Quirke Cell 15, Mississauga.
EcoMetrix Incorporated 2016, Interim Public Dose Estimation for the Closed Mines of the Serpent River Watershed, Mississauga.
Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) 1992a, Probabilistic Assessment of the Long-term Performance of the Quirke Mine Waste Management Area, Toronto.
Golder 1992b, Probabilistic Assessment of the Long-term Performance of the Panel Mine Waste Management Area, Toronto.
Golder 1994, Interim Assessment of the Hydrogeological Performance of Cell No. 14, Quirke Mine Waste Management Area, Toronto.
Golder 1996, Geotechnical Aspects of Decommissioning and Simplified Risk Assessment Stanleigh Mine Waste Management Area, Toronto.
Golder 1997, Summary of Water Budget Analyses, Toronto.
Golder 1999, Probabilistic Assessment of the Long-term Performance of Lacnor, Nordic, Pronto and Spanish-American Waste Management Areas Elliot Lake, Ontario, Toronto.
Golder 2011, Quirke TMA Cell 15 Water Balance, Toronto.
Golder 2017, Climate Baseline Assessment Rio Algom Limited Tailings Management Areas Around Elliot Lake, Toronto.
Golder 2018, Climate Change Projections for Elliot Lake Tailings Management Areas, Toronto.
James F MacLaren Ltd. 1977, Environmental Assessment of the Proposed Elliot Lake Uranium Mines Expansion Volume 1 Background Information.
Minnow Environmental Inc. (Minnow) and Beak 2001, Serpent River Watershed Monitoring Program – 1999 Study Final Report, Georgetown.
Minnow 2002, Overview of Elliot Lake Monitoring Programs and Source Area Monitoring Program Design, Georgetown.
Minnow 2007, Serpent River In-Basin Monitoring Program: Cycle 2 Interpretive Report Revision 1, Georgetown.
Minnow 2008, Serpent River Watershed State of the Environment, Georgetown.
Minnow 2011, Serpent River Watershed State of the Environment Report, Georgetown.
Minnow 2013, Determination of Deposition Rates Using Sediment Core Profiling and Sediment Traps in McCabe, Quirke and Nordic Lakes, Elliot Lake, Ontario, Georgetown.
Minnow 2016, Cycle 4 Study Design for the SRWMP, SAMP and TOMP, Georgetown.
Minnow 2017, Serpent River Watershed Cycle 4 (2010 to 2014) State of the Environment Report, Georgetown.
Morgenstern, NR & MacPhie HL, 1999, External Review Report Quirke Waste Management Area Tailings Safety Review, Elliot Lake, Ontario.
Rio Algom Limited (RAL) 1995, Decommissioning of the Quirke and Panel Waste Management Areas.
RAL 1997, Comprehensive Study Report Decommissioning of the Stanleigh Waste Management Area, Mine and Mill.
SENES Consultants Limited (SENES) 1992, Supporting Document II Environmental Pathways Analyses for the Quirke and Panel Decommissioning Proposals, Richmond Hill.
SENES 1996, Supporting Document IV Environmental and Pathways Analyses for the Stanleigh Mine Decommissioning Project, Richmond Hill.
SENES & Niblett Environmental Associates Inc. 1994, Evaluation of the Aquatic Environment in the Serpent River Watershed.
Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) 2010, Fish and Waterfowl Consumption Study.
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) 1996, Report to the General Assembly, with Scientific Annex, United Nations, New York.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to