Reclamation of Disturbed Sites Research at Diavik Diamond Mine, NWT
Principal Investigator: Naeth, M. Anne (6)
Licence Number: 15600
Organization: University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2017 2016 2015 2014 2009 2008 2005
Issued: Feb 11, 2015
Project Team: Valerie Miller (PhD Student, University of Alberta), Sarah Ficko (PhD Student, University of Alberta), Jasmine Lamarre (MSc Student, University of Alberta), Venesa Whyte (MSc Student, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To determine appropriate methods to restore disturbed sites at Diavik Diamond Mine to productive and sustainable tundra communities following mine closure.

Project Description: The overall research goal is to determine appropriate methods to restore disturbed sites at Diavik Diamond Mine to productive and sustainable tundra communities following mine closure. There are three main research areas 1) building suitable reclamation substrates for plant establishment and growth, 2) methods of collection and propagation of locally common native plant and lichen species, and 3) longer term monitoring of research sites to assess reclamation success over time.

A research site was established on the old magazine store area at Diavik to test the effects of substrate, microsite and organic matter on plant establishment and growth. Substrates include processed kimberlite, lake sediment and crushed rock. Native grass and forb cultivars will be sown. Surface soil samples will be collected and analyzed at a laboratory. Data loggers will be installed to monitor soil water content and temperature. Vegetation will be assessed annually (density, canopy/ground cover, species richness).

Seed and cuttings from locally common shrubs and lichen fragments will be hand collected from undisturbed areas on East Island. At the University of Alberta, the effect of time of collection, conventional propagation treatments, and substrates on shrubs and lichen will be tested. Shrubs and lichen will be monitored weekly for health and growth. Seedlings will also be planted on-site in small scale plots to further test the effect of reclamation substrates and use of hydrogel on plant success. A research site was established to test the potential of substrates, amendments and native species for reclamation. Soil and plant tissue samples will be collected for analysis at a laboratory and vegetation assessed.

Volunteers will assist with data collection on the research sites and seed and cutting collection.

The research team will provide annual progress reports to Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. and a final research report at the end of the research program. The research team will provide Diavik with copies of each graduate student's thesis upon completion. Diavik as part of their annual reporting will share results with the local communities. Upon request, the research team will attend meetings and discuss results with local communities.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 15, 2015 to September 15, 2015.