John McConnell, president, director and CEO of Victoria Gold Corp, talks at the 2017 Yukon Geoscience Forum and Trade Show in Whitehorse. Victoria Gold says amendments to its water license ordered by the Yukon’s water board won’t impact the construction schedule of the Eagle mine 85 km from Mayo. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Victoria Gold confident amended water licence won’t slow progress at Yukon’s Eagle mine

Changes to the mine plan means Yukon’s water board wants the company to apply for an amended licence

Victoria Gold says amendments to its water license ordered by the Yukon’s water board won’t impact the construction schedule of the Eagle mine 85 km from Mayo.

Earlier this month, following a mandated review of some of the mine’s plans, the water board told the company it needed to amend its water license to account for changes it made to the design.

Board chair Piers McDonald said the plans were not approved by the board “not because they were technically unsound but because they referenced a mine plan that had evolved and changed from that that was originally licensed.”

The changes are improvements, said Victoria Gold’s president John McConnell. They include a decision to no longer divert a creek and to move the embankment for the heap leach pad out of Dublin gulch, he said May 24.

The changes came out of recommendations from the Nacho Nyak Dun (NND) First Nation and its land manager, McConnell said.

He said resubmitting an updated plan to ask for an amended licence is relatively simple. The technical work has already been done.

“It’s re-submitting it with a different cover page or cover letter,” he said.

McConnell said the members of the water board have completely changed since the mine completed its public hearings three years ago.

He said the plan is to write a draft, sit down with the water board secretariat, “and make sure that everybody’s happy with what we’ve got there and consult with our partners the NND.”

The mine’s current water licence is still active. There’s no timeline for when an amended licence could be approved. That can vary depending on how complicated projects are, McDonald said.

He said that the features that are under review couldn’t be constructed until they are approved.

McConnell said the company could wait for a decision “until we go into operations.”

“The embankment doesn’t hold any water until we start operations,” he said. “So that’s when we would be in contravention”

The mine’s completion and first gold pour is scheduled for the second half of 2019. Construction started earlier this year. The existing camp has 250 people.

Lewis Rifkind, with the Yukon Conservation Society, said it does appear what Victoria Gold is proposing could be an improvement.

He said it’s still important for the water board to take a look because the board has the required expertise.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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