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Kensington Back Dam, Stage 4A

The remote Kensington Mine is located 45 miles north-northwest of Juneau, Alaska, with access only via a small plane or boat. The active approximately 240-acre gold mine also houses a tailing treatment facility (TTF), located near the region’s Slate Lakes area. The mine’s owner, Coeur Alaska, hired WSP and Alaska Aggregate Products to design and build a dam in between the tailings treatment facility and Upper Slate Lake to help facilitate responsible tailings management. A newly constructed dam will allow more tailings to be stored subaqueously in the TTF. This environmentally proactive, multistage project started in 2018 and is planned to continue through 2025.

proHNS established a mobile materials lab at Kensington Mine in 2023 to conduct all the QC materials testing for the project, including particle size distributions, proctor and nuclear densities, concrete field testing, and grout testing. We provided a full-time materials technician from Juneau to run this process while residing at the Kensington mine camp for the 2023 season.

By the end of the year, proHNS had evaluated over 30,000 cubic yards of aggregate used to build the dam. Along with the mobile lab, proHNS supplied a new compression test machine and cure tank setup to the site, which allowed our technician to test the strength of shotcrete, lean concrete, and structural concrete cylinders made during the pours.

Once completed, the dam will provide additional safeguards to the surrounding Berner’s Bay wilderness area by keeping the mine’s tailings isolated to a controlled storage location. With the capabilities provided by the proHNS on-site testing lab and expertise of our QC Technician, the remote project achieved faster turnarounds for all materials testing, and helped minimize any delays in its construction.