Nutrien Fox Mine – Mine Tailings Remediation

Environmental Containment

Fox Mine, MB
March to September 2023
Supply and Install

Project summary

Fox Mine, located in northern Manitoba, was one of many mines in that area owned and operated by Sherritt Gordon Mines Ltd. It opened in 1961 and was one of the last to close in 1985. During mine operations, tailings from ore processing were discharged into the tailings management area (TMA), covering approximately 360 acres. While in compliance with current regulations, the exposed tailings were barren and generated acidic runoff, which required treatment to comply with the water quality discharge license.

As part of a 1996 business acquisition, Nutrien assumed ownership of the Fox Mine TMA. In 2021, Nutrien decided to reclaim the TMA to return the land and the adjacent waterbodies to productivity. Reclamation of this facility generally involves three phases:

  • Relocating approximately 1.8 million m3 of tailings, shrinking the tailings footprint from approximately 360 acres to approximately 190 acres.
  • Installing a low-permeability cover system above the consolidated tailings.
  • Neutralization of the downstream water bodies.

Tailings excavation began in January 2022 and was completed in April 2023. The installation of the cover system began and was completed in 2023. It represented one of the largest liner projects in North America for the year. Neutralization of the downstream waterbodies began in 2022 and is anticipated to be complete in 2024.

The lined area spanned an impressive 785,616m2 (8.5 million square feet), requiring over 500 rolls of Enviro Liner® 4240. The project commenced in March 2023, strategically leveraging the frozen tailings for an early start. By the end of that first shift (April), the warmer weather had created muddy ground conditions, requiring a temporary suspension of capping efforts until the end of spring melt.

June marked their return, overcoming muddy subgrade, relentless 40km/hr winds, and wildfire smoke in subsequent shifts. Collaborating closely with the earthworks contractor, the crew devised creative solutions to ensure safe liner deployment despite adverse conditions. The project concluded successfully, meeting deadlines and staying under budget. The crew fostered positive relationships with on-site groups, including Strilkiwski (earthworks), Arcadis (engineer), and Nutrien (owner), reflecting our dedication to collaboration and excellence.


“Layfield did an amazing job on this project from beginning to end. Their procurement group was fair and easy to work with, their manufacturing group delivered a high-quality product (no rejections in 800,000m2), ahead of schedule, and their installation team completed this very large project without a safety or environmental incident, under budget and on schedule. I look forward to working with this team again.”

jon bronson, sr remediation manager, nutrien

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