Interest in mining in the North has never been greater. With talk of electrification of transportation and a shift to green energy, crucial strategic minerals will be in high demand. Our Circumpolar North has many of these minerals. However, we must be sure to encourage and rethink sustainable mining practices and clean-up, in which bioremediation can and will play a big part.

The UArctic Frederik Paulsen High Level Seminar: Mine Bioremediation in the Arctic took place on September 18-20, 2023 at Yukon University in Whitehorse, Canada, organized by the Northern Mine Remediation Chair at YukonU and UArctic. The seminar asked participants to think about the future of mining, and how we could ensure a clean and healthy environment for generations while still gaining access to necessary materials.

Mining Seminar Yukon September 2023 Group Work
Thought experiment in progress
Photo: Avery Zammit, Yukon University

Scientists and specialists from around the circumpolar Arctic gathered around the Ayamdigut (Whitehorse) Yukon University Campus. Over the three days, the seminar participants discussed the merits and prospects of mine bioremediation in the northern climates. New scientific research and techniques were shared between colleagues. Their discussions covered topics such as challenges and opportunities in mine remediation, case studies, community engagement, sustainability and cost-effectiveness, and innovation and collaboration. In addition, thought experiments were conducted in small groups that emphasized understanding the differences and similarities between Arctic regions and conceptualizing what a mine would look like 100 years in the future. Guillaume Nielsen from Yukon University's Industrial Research Chair in Northern Mine Remediation facilitated the seminar's activities.

The group also toured Arctic Chief Mine which became a participant favourite. They were led by Dr. Joel Cubley, a Yukon University Geologist, who showed them two mining pits, waste rock piles, and the tailings compound. Engaging historical and geological information was shared, along with potential re-mining prospects of the tailings, making the tour comprehensive and enlightening. Participants were also given a sweeping tour of YukonU, Canada's first university north of 60.

Mining Seminar Yukon September 2023 Group Photo

Photo: Avery Zammit, Yukon University

This seminar produced many connections between European and North American academics as they discussed and disclosed similar interests, which will inspire future research projects. Conversations about collaboration between universities and organizations could be heard during breaks at all stoppages. The connections fostered at this UArctic Frederik Paulsen High Level Seminar have encouraged a promising future for mine bioremediation in the Arctic. 

Read more about UArctic Seminars

Report, photos and attached newsletter provided by Avery Zammit, Project Officer, Northern Mine Remediation, YukonU Research Centre