Decommissioning and reclamation of the Beaverlodge uranium mine-mill operation: Current state of the transition phase

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 93, No. 1045, 2000

R.L.J. Phillips, Cameco Corporation, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan K.T. Himbeault, B.J. Topp, Canada North Environmental Services Limited, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan B.E. Halbert and S.L. Fernandes, SENES Consultants Limited, Richmond Hill, Ontario

The Beaverlodge uranium mining and milling facilities operated from 1952 to 1981 with about 94% of the ore extracted from the main underground mine and 6% from smaller satellite deposits. Decommissioning work occurred from 1982 to 1985 involving periods of shutdown, salvage and reclamation. Transition phase monitoring, leading to eventual delicencing commenced in July 1985. Over the last 15 years, discharge from the tailings management facility (TMF) and a fresh water stream, impacted during the operational phase by tailings spills, has improved in water quality for most parameters of concern. Loadings to the environment of three key contaminants (radium-226, total dissolved solids, and uranium) have consistently been less than during the operational phase with radium-226 having the greatest variability. Outstanding environmental issues associated with the recovering drainage system formerly used for tailings disposal, are being addressed in an enhanced environmental monitoring program to commence in 2000. Changes in water chemistry and the natural re-introduction of aquatic organisms are issues