The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board has approved Victoria Gold Corp.‘s Eagle Gold mine near Mayo.
In a report released yesterday, the board recommended that the Yukon and federal governments grant licences for the project.
The decision comes after a vigorous assessment process by the board’s executive committee that lasted more than two years.
Assessors recommended an extensive list of 123 terms and conditions designed to lessen the project’s potentially adverse effects on nearby communities and the environment.
The proposed mine would use a heap-leach facility. In it, ore is piled up and broken down using a chemical cocktail. The run-off is collected, and gold can then be separated out from it.
Victoria Gold plans to use cyanide to extract gold from ore.
Managing the risks associated with cyanide use, including trucking it in from Outside, was a major focus of YESAB’s recommendations.
The board suggested that Victoria Gold develop detailed protocols for the handling and usage of cyanide. This would include an emergency response plan in the event of a cyanide spill on the mine site or along the transportation route within the Yukon.
The Yukon Conservation Society applauded YESAB’s attention to detail in setting out its recommendations.
“From an environmental point of view, it seems quite thorough given the number of recommendations and the scope,” said Lewis Rifkind. “They’re looking at almost everything.”
A major concern with a heap-leach facility is the potential for chemicals to seep into the surrounding area, he said.
“There’s always concern of, ‘How secure is that facility?’ You don’t want the cyanide solution going into the groundwater for obvious reasons. But at the same time the company does not want to lose that, because that’s where the gold is.”
The Yukon government and the federal departments of fisheries, transport and natural resources have the authority to decide if they will accept YESAB’s recommendations.
However, unlike at lower levels of YESAB assessment, the decision bodies do not have the authority to reject or modify the board’s recommendations.
If they choose not to accept the assessment, they must send the report back to the YESAB executive committee for further review. The governments have 60 days to make a decision.
As part of the assessment process, the company was also required to consult with the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun.
However, because the project will not take place on settlement lands under the First Nation’s land claims agreement, it does not have decision-making authority over the project.
Victoria Gold and Nacho Nyak Dun could not be reached for comment by press time.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at