Assessors bring in outside help to review giant Casino tailings dam

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has hired an expert to help assess the proposed Casino mine tailings dam.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has hired an expert to help assess the proposed Casino mine tailings dam.

Norbert Morgenstern is an internationally acclaimed dam engineer who also is chair of the Mount Polley Review Panel, the group charged with investigating the failure of the Imperial Metals facility near Likely, B.C., in August of last year.

He has been hired by the assessment board to provide expert advice on Casino’s proposed tailings management plan.

The scale of the proposed copper-gold mine, located 150 kilometres northwest of Carmacks, is enormous.

The plan is to process 120,000 tonnes per day of rock through a 22-year mine life.

For comparison, the Faro mine maxed out at 10,000 tonnes per day.

The tailings dam is expected to be 286 metres tall and 2.5 kilometres long.

Only three dams in the world are taller, and they are all part of hydroelectric facilities, not mine sites, according to Wikipedia.

The Brushy Fork Coal Impoundment, located in West Virginia, holds tailings from coal mining and currently sits at 270 metres tall, the tallest dam in the Western hemisphere. That dam is expected to grow to 291 metres by completion.

The Casino tailings facility is expected to hold back 956 million tonnes of tailings and 658 million tonnes of waste rock after the mine’s closure.

That’s the equivalent weight of about 10 million adult blue whales.

The Casino mine proposal is currently in front of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

The company hopes to have all assessments and permits in place to begin construction in 2016.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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