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A miner is silhouetted in a shaft 100 feet below the surface at the Giant Mine near Yellowknife.
A miner is silhouetted in a shaft 100 feet below the surface at the Giant Mine near Yellowknife.
(ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

SEAN SILCOFF

Why are taxpayers on the hook to clean up mines?

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The former Giant Mine has been a giant headache for nearby residents in the Northwest Territories, and Canadian taxpayers, long after former owner Royal Oak Mines went into receivership in 1999. According to documents obtained by Canadian Press, the federal government expects the mine cleanup cost to approach $1-billion, more than twice initial estimates. Meanwhile, a recent Pembina Institute report notes that even after the Giant mess, primarily 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust stored underground, is contained by a controversial block freezing process, Ottawa will need to pay $1.9-million annually in perpetuity to control the mine’s toxicity.