Natural Resources
April 27, 2007

Government Releases Phase II Reports for Baie Verte and Rambler Mine Sites

The Provincial Government today released the Phase II Environmental Site Assessments for the former Baie Verte and Rambler Mine Sites and issued a Request for Proposals for Phase III at both locations to further delineate contamination and determine how best to proceed with closing out the sites.

The Phase III Environmental Site Assessments are part of the $10.1 million, three-year work plan for the two sites announced in Budget 2007 Thursday. The value of the work to be completed in this fiscal year is roughly $3.3 million for both sites and will address the immediate safety and environmental concerns identified in the Phase II studies.

"We now have a much better understanding of the issues we are facing at these sites and what we need to do to address the immediate physical hazards and environmental issues," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources. "There are no easy answers to addressing the environmental scars left by these operations. What we are doing is addressing the immediate issues identified in Phase II and developing a plan for going forward based on any outstanding issues identified in the next phase."

The issues are directly related to the type of industrial activity that took place there, predominately in the 1960s and 1970s when the mines were in full production and environmental standards far different. The three-year work plan, to be lead by a dedicated project manager, will address the immediate safety and environmental issues identified at the site through the demolition of deteriorating buildings, removal of fuel tanks and contaminated soil, and the fencing in of open pits.

"I am delighted this work is proceeding with funding allocated in this year's budget," said Paul Shelley, MHA for Baie Verte. "This work will not only result in addressing the immediate safety and environmental issues, but it will provide employment opportunities for local contractors and benefit the local economy through lodging, food and support for the specialized out-of-town contractors."

Government embarked on a three-part environmental site assessment process in late 2004 to identify the contamination and safety issues at the former mine sites, delineate the level of contamination, determine the issues associated with the decommissioning of any infrastructure, and identify rehabilitation options. The studies indicate the properties pose no immediate health risks to area residents.

The reports studied the former Consolidated Rambler base metal mines and the Baie Verte asbestos mine properties. Unrelated private companies operated each of the mines from the early 1960s to the early 1980s when the operations ceased and reverted back to the Provincial Government. The Baie Verte property was subsequently leased intermittently to a number of successor companies up until the mid-1990s. The former operators did not clean up the sites and regulations in effect when the mines opened did not contain provisions compelling companies to rehabilitate their properties. Legislation now exists that requires all mining companies to provide an appropriate level of financial assurance against liabilities associated with rehabilitation of a mining property so government is not left with the responsibility.

"The province has controlled the Consolidated Rambler site since 1989 and the Baie Verte site since 1997, but this is the first administration to do something about it," said Minister Dunderdale. "I am pleased funding has been made available in this budget to tackle the immediate issues associated with these sites and to continue the process to confirm the presence and forms of contamination and the best way forward."

The Phase II Environmental Site Assessment reports and the Terms of Reference for Phase III are available online at


Media contact:
Tracy Barron
Director of Communications
Department of Natural Resources
709-729-5282, 690-8241


Summary of Environmental Assessment Process

  • In 2004, government committed to a three-phase environmental assessment process to identify the contamination and safety issues, delineate the level of contamination and determine remediation options at the Baie Verte asbestos mine and Rambler base metal mines properties. This study is the second part of this process.
  • The primary concern at the Baie Verte property is the presence of asbestos in waste rock, tailings and within the buildings and contamination related to the industrial use of the property, such as soils contaminated by fuel storage tanks, lead and mercury in paints throughout the buildings and PCBs. The poor conditions of the buildings and potential instability of the open pit and tailings piles pose possible safety hazards.
  • Air sampling results indicate that airborne asbestos levels are well below current occupational health and safety acceptable limits at the Baie Verte mine site.
  • The three-year work plan identified for Baie Verte, at a cost of approximately $7.5 million, will include the demolition of the buildings, testing the stability of the pit and installing barriers to the fall hazards around the pit. While this study found evidence of contaminants, more study is necessary to determine the amount of contamination and the size of contaminated areas.
  • In the case of the Rambler property, the report confirmed the presence of environmental contamination at the site. It confirmed the presence of acid generation from sulphidic materials, building materials containing asbestos, fuel storage tanks and associated contaminated soils, lead paints, PCBs, elevated levels of metals in soil and water and two areas with evidence of cyanide. The report recommends proceeding with the Phase III study to further delineate contamination.
  • Safety issues at Rambler are related to the poor structural condition of the buildings and other infrastructure at the site. The site is not operating and the public is barred. Government has committed to addressing immediate safety concerns at the site. Air quality has not been identified as an issue at this site.
  • Environmental issues include petroleum contamination of soil and acid generation, which results in leaching of metals from the tailings at the site that has impacted South Brook due to low pH and high metal concentrations in the water. There are no communities directly downstream from South Brook; therefore, it should not pose a threat to human health. The Phase II report confirmed that, while there are two areas of the site that are impacted by cyanide, there is no cyanide in surface water leaving the site.
  • The three-year work plan identified for Rambler, at a cost of roughly $2.6 million, includes; the removal of most of the infrastructure on the site, the removal of fuel tanks, remediation of contaminated soil and water sampling. The impact of water affected with low pH and elevated metals may require consolidation of all acid generating materials into one area and treatment of all water draining from that area as long as the leaching continues. This will be identified in Phase III.

2007 04 27                                                 9:25 a.m.


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