Archaeological Site Assessment of the Rayrock Mine

James Mooney (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2014-024)

In September of 2014, Ecofor Consulting Ltd., conducted a brief Archaeological Site Assessment of the Rayrock Mine Site, located approximately 156 km northwest of Yellowknife. The intention of this assessment was to document Tłı̨chǫ and non-Tłı̨chǫ use of the Rayrock site and surrounding area, to ensure culturally significant locations are left undisturbed during planned remediation efforts. This assessment effort was conducted under the direction of WESA BluMetric Environmental Inc., on behalf of the Northern Contaminated Site Group, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. These efforts were led by James Mooney and assisted by archaeological technician Pierre-Luc Fortin of Ecofor Consulting Ltd., and Noel Drybones (Tłı̨chǫ elder), Samuelle Lamuelle (Tłı̨chǫ wildlife monitor), Renee Ekendia (Tłı̨chǫ job shadow), and Leon Sanspariel (Tłı̨chǫ wildlife monitor).

Although no specific areas of potential impact were presented as priority areas to assess, the team conducted the survey by four main tasks: 1) review and record historic structural remains; 2) survey the northern higher elevation area; 3) assess the exploration area on Maryleer Lake; 4) assess the northern ~2.5 km of access road to the mine site and the southern and central site area.

The buildings at the mine site have been burned or removed and few structural remains are present. Those identified are from the mill, the crusher, screens & transfer house, the powerhouse, an unknown building east of the mill, the compressor building, the boiler house, a staff house, cook house, bunk houses 1 through 4, the manager’s house, a series of five duplexes, scattered disturbed remains of a structure west of the recreation hall, the recreation hall and curling rink. Our team also identified the power line poles heading northeast away from the mine area, and two of the closed and capped raise vents. The area around the shore of Maryleer Lake was flown and inspected from the air, but none of the air crew or field crew spotted any exploration camp remains, as such the shore of Maryleer Lake was not assessed on foot. The team identified three areas of increased archaeological potential; however, no shovel testing was conducted and no prehistoric materials were identified. Due to time constraints, the time spent transecting this large area for prehistoric resources did not provide full assessment of the entire study area. If impacts are planned for any of these three areas of potential, then these areas are recommended to be avoided, or subsurface testing is recommended in these three areas, in advance of planned impacts.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)