Emergency Amendment at Meliadine2020-11-30T13:56:30+00:00



Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine is committed to protecting the aquatic environment of Meliadine Lake.  We closely monitor all discharges into the lake and we work closely with the Nunavut Water Board to ensure that we meet the discharge limits permitted by Meliadine’s Water License.

We want to advise you that we have requested and officially received an emergency amendment to our Water License for the 2020 discharge season.

We requested this change in order to effectively manage the higher levels of water runoff Meliadine is experiencing from rain and snow melt, which have impacted both our 2019 and 2020 water discharge plans.

The amendment will allow us to empty the mine’s holding or “containment” pond which contains water collected from rain and snow and ice melt in 2019, so that we can accept the upcoming spring melt of snow and ice (freshet) and properly discharge the accumulated water for 2020. This accumulated water will not have negative effects on the environment. This amendment protects not only the integrity of Meliadine Lake, it protects the integrity of our infrastructures by limiting the risk of flooding and thereby ensuring the safe operation of our facilities.

During the discharge period between May and October, Agnico Eagle is committed to keeping the community informed on the progress of the discharge, the current water quality conditions in Meliadine Lake and to providing results from the monitoring of the water quality in Meliadine Lake during the discharge in 2020.

Additionally, we are establishing a Water Management Working Group, which will include the appropriate team of experts, government and KIA representatives, to discuss the monitoring progress of the discharge from the containment pond. Ongoing analysis and monitoring will be conducted on Meliadine Lake to confirm that there are no effects on the receiving environment during and after the discharge.

This amendment is essential and will ensure that water from Meliadine mine continues to be managed in a way that protects Meliadine Lake. We want to reassure the community that we are working in good faith throughout this situation and seeking the best outcome for Nunavut waters and the environment.

For more information, please click here for a technical background information note, along with a Frequently Asked Question section below.    

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via this email address tusaajugut@agnicoeagle.com, or call us toll-free at 1-844-323-3002.

Project Location
Technical Background Information
CP1 Discharge
Contact Us

Discharge Progress

Discharge to Meliadine Lake – Completed on October 3rd.

Meliadine Site Map

CP1 Testing Results


Surface contact water from rain and melted snow accumulated at the surface of the mine site is being sent in the Containment Pond to be treated and then released into Meliadine Lake.  

Total dissolved solids is a measure of all dissolved salts and minerals in the water.  These salts and minerals include inorganic and organic forms of major ions (particles), nutrients and metals, each of which are found naturally in in the water.  Human activity can also increase the amount of solids (TDS).

Normal discharge from Meliadine’s containment pond allows TDS concentration limits at 1,400 mg/L. The TDS concentration limits during the discharge will be about 3,500 mg/L. The concentration at freeze up last year was 2,400 mg/L, which means that on average, the water that will be discharged will be well below the 3,500 gm/L limit.

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water treatment system that reduces the contaminants of water by using a membrane to filter out and flush away contaminants. The high-quality membrane used removes viruses, bacteria, and parasites in addition of TDS, heavy metals, fluoride, herbicides, pesticides, unpleasant odor and taste. 

The freshet is a great rise or overflowing of a stream caused by heavy rains or melted snow and ice.

Did you know?

Water Management

Water Management

At Agnico Eagle, we are committed to operating in a socially responsible manner as we contribute to the prosperity of our people, their families and the communities in which we operate. We understand the importance of environmental protection, which is why we aim to minimize the environmental effects of our operations and maintain environmental viability and diversity.

In order to provide the most accurate and timely information about our operations, we are launching an awareness campaign to help clarify some environmental topics that are part of our Nunavut operations.

The water management process involves a network of containment ponds, pumps, pipes, and treatment plants to appropriately manage the flow and quality of water that contacts the site prior to its release. Water management processes are specific to each Agnico Eagle Nunavut Site and are continuously evolving.

Water Monitoring

Water Monitoring

The water quality standard we must follow at Agnico Eagle Nunavut sites is called the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER). Monitoring of discharge water at our mine sites is rigorous, and we continuously adjust the way we manage water based on the results of our monitoring.

Water quality testing is a crucial component in maintaining the environmental standards of our operations. Samples are collected at multiple points in the water cycle, including at all treatment plants at the mine site. We have scheduled testing programs to ensure the water is safe and meets local and international water standards.

Dike (Dam)

Dike (Dam)

A dike is an engineered barrier of rockfill and liners that is constructed to control or confine water – like a dam. At Agnico Eagle Nunavut sites, some dikes are used to control the runoff of rainfall or any other water that contacts the mine operations so it can be collected and then treated before being released back to the environment.

Committed to Answering your Questions

Is this the only option you considered? Were there other ways to manage this situation?2020-06-15T17:52:43+00:00

Over the winter of 2019-2020, Agnico Eagle evaluated a number of options and proposed solutions. Some of the options included:

    • applying for a Water License amendment under the regular process;
    • treating the containment pond water during winter via reverse osmosis;
    • capturing surface contact water for discharge;
    • raising the dike;
    • pursuing other, faster, permitting options.

Unfortunately, it would have taken too long to apply for an amendment to our permit under the regular process – between 9 and 12 months –thereby missing the required May discharge schedule before this year’s freshet. The emergency amendment allows us to meet the required timelines.

Is this really an emergency? Why did you choose this approach?2020-05-14T19:06:58+00:00

It was determined that water levels in the containment pond posed significant risks to the integrity of the water management infrastructure if Agnico Eagle was not able to temporarily discharge from the holding pond in advance of the 2020 freshet. This was an unusual circumstance that required immediate action.

The discharge option we selected showed that  it would not change the water quality of the Meliadine Lake. Other options we studied were not able to manage the volume of water held in the containment pond and the runoff expected at freshet.

Will the temperature of the discharged water be the same as the lake water temperature?2020-05-14T19:07:03+00:00

The temperature of the discharged water will be similar to that in Meliadine Lake.  The collection pond that the water to be discharged is stored in, will be exposed to the same ambient (natural) temperature conditions that the lake is exposed to.  Some temperature differences between the collection pond and Meliadine Lake are expected due to the differences in surface area and depth between the two; the collection pond is smaller and shallower than Meliadine Lake and therefore prone to higher variability.  However, the collection pond has a similar depth and surface area to many of the natural lakes in the local area, so the range of annual water temperatures is expected to be similar to that in these natural lakes, which might be slightly warmer or cooler than the temperature of the water in Meliadine Lake depending on the time of the year.  Further, the pumping line from the collection pond to the discharge point includes a section that is under water, and as the water travels through this section of the pipe, its temperature will transition to be more similar to the temperature at the discharge location.  The diffuser has also been designed to disperse the discharged water rapidly and effectively, which will bring the temperature of the discharged water as it disperses to the temperature of the lake if there is still any difference at that point.

How can we be sure what you are doing is really safe for the environment?2020-05-15T19:47:42+00:00

During the discharge period, Agnico Eagle is committed to keeping the community informed on the progress of the discharges, the current water quality conditions in Meliadine Lake and to providing results from the water quality monitoring during the discharges in 2020.

Additionally, we are establishing a Water Management Working Group, which will include the appropriate team of experts, government and KIA representatives, to discuss the monitoring progress of the discharge from the containment pond. Ongoing analysis and monitoring will be conducted on Meliadine Lake to confirm that there are no effects on the receiving environment during and after the discharge.

Will the health of fishes and breeding of fish species be affected?2020-05-14T19:07:13+00:00

No, in fact, the effect of a diffuser on habitat in Meliadine Lake is negligible. First, the area where the diffuser is located is not used by fishes (it is of low value to them). It is a very small area (approximately 0.04% of the total surface of the lake) that will be impacted compared to the overall area of the lake. Lastly, the water quality will not be an issue for fishes and it will continue to be safe to eat fish from Meliadine Lake.

Is the water quality being discharged drinkable water?2020-05-14T19:07:19+00:00

The water quality downstream of the diffuser is expected to be drinkable and the quality of the water is not affected by TDS. In fact, the drinking water on site is not treated for TDS particles.

Will there be any change in the taste of water?2020-05-14T19:07:25+00:00

The design of the diffuser makes sure that the discharged water is mixed quickly and effectively in the mixing zone so that target levels of TDS occur within a short distance from the diffuser.  Therefore, there is not expected to be any noticeable taste in the water downstream of the diffuser.

What “experts” are you referring to and how rigorous was the testing?2020-05-15T19:43:29+00:00

Agnico Eagle used experts from Tetra Tech Canada to determine the projected water levels and risks to the mine’s water management infrastructure, as well as Golder Associates to determine that the water quality from the discharge was not toxic.

Golder studied the water quality and toxicity to assess if there were any effects of an elevated concentration of TDS in the receiving environment (Lake Meliadine). The containment pond water was sampled weekly until freeze up (early October) after which it could not be sampled due to safety concerns with ice thickness. Once ice thickness was found to be safe, weekly toxicity and water quality characterization resumed on December 15th and has continued since.

Toxicity testing of water held in the containment pond was conducted during multiple months including the winter and results showed that the water held in the containment pond will not have negative effects on the environment of Meliadine Lake. The effluent meets the current discharge limits for every other parameter in Meliadine’s Type A Water License.

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