Keno Hill Silver Mines
Located 85 km northeast of Mayo in the Yukon Territory, there are 34 abandoned silver mines spread over roughly 210 km2 of mountainous terrain at the Keno Hill site. Between 1914 and 1989, 6.8 million kg of silver were mined from the site by several operators and financial interests including United Keno Hill Mines Ltd., and Falconbridge. In 1989, United Keno Hill Mines closed the site for economic reasons and then became insolvent in 2000. In 2003, the Yukon Government took over the care and supervision of the site, but in 2006 they sold the mine to Alexco Corporation for future development of remaining silver deposits.
Significant environmental problems remain at the Keno Hill site. Local creeks have been contaminated with heavy metal-laden water that is draining directly out of the mine sites. Water testing data suggests that stream contamination in the area dates back at least to the mid-1960s. Moreover, unreliable and insecure dams at several tailings ponds present the further possibility of significant heavy metal contamination in local creeks and rivers. The mine site lies within the traditional territory of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation.