Waters were collected from the surface and bottom of four lakes as well as from the Churchill River and approximately 20 small ponds beside the Leaf Rapids-Ruttan mine-South Indian Lake road to determine geochemical variations related to tailings and waste rock disposal from the Ruttan Cu-Zn VHMS deposit. Using sonar profiling as a guide, grab samples and cores of sediments were also collected in Ruttan, Brehaut, Rusty, and Alto lakes to investigate the geochemical and sedimentological effects of liming the acid (pH 2.5) outflow from Ruttan Lake. Preliminary results indicate that metals anthropogenically enriched in Ruttan Lake (Zn, Cd, and Hg in particular) are scavenged and precipitated at the inflow end of Brehaut Lake as a result of adding lime solutions to the Vermilion River, midway through the 500 m reach that connects Ruttan Lake and Brehaut Lake. Zn in Ruttan Lake water (up to 17 ppm) is precipitated in the limey sediment. Zn is not enriched in waters of Rusty Lake, the next lake downstream from Brehaut Lake. Rusty Lake has Zn concentrations comparable to background water from Alto Lake (<10 ppb Zn). At present, liming appears to be controlling metal migration effectively, but a body of Zn-Cd-Hg-rich carbonate precipitate occupies the south end of Brehaut Lake which, without liming, would be receiving water of pH 2.5 from Ruttan Lake, resulting in a remobilization of metals. The related study also showed that Zn concentrations are elevated in water in contact with waste rock used to upgrade sections of the Leaf Rapids-South Indian Lake and Brehaut Lake roads.
Additional publication details
Effects of acid mine effluent on sediment and water geochemistry, Ruttan Cu-Zn mine