Understanding and Assessing Impacts
Climate change may create or compound hazards from abandoned and orphaned mines like Kam Kotia. For example, a rapid snowmelt event in 2012 caused one of the tailings dams at Kam Kotia to breach, discharging contaminated water and sediment into the surrounding environment.
As part of the project “Assessing Climate Change Risks of Abandoned or Orphaned Mine Sites in Ontario, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories”, under a funding agreement with Natural Resources Canada, the Climate Risk Institute worked with staff at the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) to perform a Climate Change Risk Assessment on the Kam Kotia abandoned mine site.
The assessment sought to identify and analyze the impacts of climate change and subsequent risks to the Kam Kotia site and to inform future remediation and adaptation efforts. The assessment process was adapted from the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) framework and National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Initiative guidance. It included six steps: project scoping, information gathering, vulnerability identification, risk ranking system, risk assessment, and adaptation and implementation. The assessment involved one meeting and three workshops over three months with collaboration from CRI and MNDMNRF representatives.
The assessment incorporated historical climate data for Timmins, ON between 1981 to 2010, future projections from an ensemble of climate models, uncertainties related to these projections, and statistics of weather conditions before and at the time of any past climate-related events that impacted the Kam Kotia site. Future projections were based on 19 climate parameters related to dry conditions, rain-on-snow, extreme precipitation, combined events, freeze-thaw cycles, groundwater conditions, and extreme winds. Climate data was largely gathered from the Climate Change Hazards Information Portal (CCHIP) and the RCP8.5 (high emissions) scenario was used to take a precautionary approach.