About FMRP

History of Mine

The Faro Mine Site is located within the traditional lands of the Kaska Nations. Indigenous people used the land of the Faro Mine and surrounding area well before the mine existed and will continue to use the land long after remediation has taken place.
About the Faro Mine

Faro Mine was once the largest open pit lead-zinc mine in the world

Today, it is the site of one of the most complex abandoned mine remediation projects in Canada. The mine spans 25 sq. km, an area roughly the size of the city of Victoria, British Columbia.

It is located in south-central Yukon, near the town of Faro, on the traditional territory of the Kaska Nations, and upstream from Selkirk First Nation. The mine was abandoned in 1998.

Processing minerals at the mine left behind 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock. This waste has the potential to leach metals and acid into the surrounding land and water.

Mining left behind 70 million tonnes of tailings and 320 million tonnes of waste rock. These wastes can release metals and acid onto the land and into water.
History of the Faro Mine

A brief history of the Faro Mine and a path forward through remediation​.

In 1953, prospectors staked a claim that would eventually become the Faro Mine. Cyprus Anvil Mining officially opened the Faro Mine in 1969, and it quickly became one of the largest employers in the territory. The Faro Mine would eventually become the largest zinc-lead mine in Canada, forming more than 30% of the economy of Yukon.

Cyprus Anvil Mining was forced to shut down operations in 1984 and the mine changed hands a few times in the years that followed. Mining continued into the mid-1990s, but because of world metal prices, the new owner Curragh Resources, went bankrupt. Anvil Range Mining re-opened the mine in 1995 and ran it until 1997. The mine closed permanently after nearly 30 years of mining when it was abandoned in 1998.

The Faro Mine Site is located within the traditional lands of the Kaska Nations, and upstream of the Selkirk First Nation. Indigenous people used the land of the Faro Mine Site and surrounding area well before the mine existed and will continue to use the land long after remediation has taken place.


The Faro Mine area, known as Tse Zul to the Ross River Dena, lies in a unique ecological setting. Here two major rivers converge in the rain-shadow of the Pelly Mountains, separated by blocks of mountains where changes in elevation yield a variety of habitats. Scattered wetlands add further diversity.


As well as being a special place for a variety of animals that lived there, Tse Zul was also special for the unique rocks found there. In fact, even the name Tse Zul is a reference to the “Hollow Rock” on the mountain. Al Kulan got to know some of the local people that lived in the area. In a kind and welcoming gesture, three Ross River Dena – Dena Cho, Joe Ladue, and Arthur John Sr. – showed this prospector some of the special rocks at Tse Zul that eventually led to the Cyprus Anvil Mine. For their part, the three Dena men received no recognition or benefits from the mine.


The importance of the Tse Zul area to Ross River Dena was exemplified by the significant use of the area. At least eight extended families lived here. There were three permanent centres of habitation in the area, and seasonal encampments were scattered everywhere. The area was also a major transportation hub, laced by a network of trails. A number of sacred areas are also found here, signifying a deep reverence to the area, and a long history of occupation. At least 26 archaeological sites found in the area provide further physical evidence of the importance of this place to the Ross River Dena.


The development of the Faro Mine and its infrastructure was one of the most debilitating events in the Ross River area, causing significant environmental and social impacts. Heavy metal leaching, acid rock drainage, and airborne pollutants poisoned the region. This, combined with habitat destruction, displacement of animals, and an invasion of outside hunters, resulted in declines of most fish and wildlife species. A population of wintering caribou disappeared, as did lake trout and grayling from a number of creeks. The Ross River Dena were displaced, further depriving them of the bush economy. The traumas that resulted were profound. Indeed, the social and environmental impacts of Faro have been disastrous to the Ross River Dena.


Project Timeline

Key dates in the remediation project

1969 to 1998

Processing of minerals left behind waste rock and finely crushed particles, known as tailings.


Faro Mine is abandoned when the owner declares bankruptcy.


Devolution Transfer Agreement takes effect, Faro Mine identified as a shared responsibility between the Government of Yukon and the Government of Canada.


Remediation objectives are selected.


Government of Yukon takes over responsibility for care and maintenance at the site. Remediation approach is selected.


Grum sulphide cell constructed with engineered covers to protect environment from contaminants.


Contractor hired to work on research to help with remediation plan design.


Old water treatment plant closed due to health and safety concerns.


New state-of-the-art water treatment plant in operation, seepage collection system installed at the North Fork Rose Creek as a temporary measure to reduce zinc levels in water.


Contractors hired to work on regulatory applications and design plans for urgent works and remediation.


Government of Canada takes over responsibility for care and maintenance of the site, construction begins on North Fork Rose Creek diversion, seepage capture system constructed near monitoring station X13.


Engineering designs for the remediation plan completed to 30%, the Remediation Plan along with its environmental and socio-economic assessment submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board to commence the review process.


Completion of North Fork of Rose Creek re-alignment construction, construction of a contact water interim measure capturing seep water that used to go into the North Fork of Rose Creek.


Construction and operation of the Cross Valley Pond Water Treatment Plant, construction, and operation of the short term down valley seepage capture system, construction and operation of the Grum Ore Transfer Pad seepage capture system.


Main Construction Manager and Care and Maintenance Contract Awarded to Parsons Inc., camp development, and preparations for the Permanent Water Treatment Plant continues. Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment continues.

The Faro Mine Remediation Project is expected to take about 15 years to complete.