Crunch time for Eagle Plain exploration

A late start to the winter has Northern Cross in a hurry to finish its first season of exploration activities at Eagle Plain before spring.

A late start to the winter has Northern Cross in a hurry to finish its first season of exploration activities at Eagle Plain before spring.

“We had hoped to be underway in November, but we didn’t get enough snow until December, and then the Christmas season was on us,” said Northern Cross president Richard Wyman.

The company received permits for a 3-D seismic exploration project in mid-November, but it required 10 centimetres of snowpack on the ground before the project could start. The layer of snow is meant to protect vegetation while the company is operating in the area. The permits for this season are good until the end of April, which means Northern Cross doesn’t have a ton of time left.

Right now the company is in the first of a three-phase project to map underground oil and natural gas resources, Wyman said.

First, they have to cut nearly 400 kilometres of trail. The second phase, which Wyman hopes will start sometime in the next two weeks, will see workers drilling nine-metre shot holes. Those will then be filled with one kilogram of dynamite each, and the reverberations from the resulting explosion, echoing back to recorders like radar, will help the company understand what’s really underground.

Wyman said the slow start to the season was a problem, but the recent stretch of warm weather actually helped.

“In some ways it helped because it’s easier to work in warmer weather. We actually got rain at Eagle Plain and when it froze up, it’s actually easier to get around on. On the whole, the warm weather actually helped more than it hurt,” he said.

The big push right now is to finish the trail slashing as quickly as possible, Wyman said.

But that part of the project is drawing flak from some subcontractors in Whitehorse over what they say are unfair hiring practices.

Brandon Duncan, the president of Higher Level Exploration, said he thinks Northern Cross should be hiring more Yukon workers and companies, especially for the slashing contract.

“They gave the slashing contract to a company from Fort Nelson, and they’re hiring picker trucks from Fort St. John. Both of those jobs could have gone to companies in the Yukon,” Duncan said.

“Why should Yukoners be in favour of a project if they’re not going to hire locals?” Duncan asked.

But Wyman said the company is hiring considerably more local workers than expected. When Northern Cross applied to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, it estimated that around 18 per cent of the jobs would go to Yukoners. As of Thursday, the company was far above that.

“Right now we have 64 people at the camp and at the Eagle Plains motel working for us. Of those, 30 are from the Yukon. The assertion that we aren’t hiring Yukoners is absolutely false,” Wyman said.

Wyman said that he couldn’t speak specifically to individual contracts because of privacy concerns, but the company uses a transparent tendering and request-for-proposal system to hire its workers and subcontractors.

Given the time crunch, making sure Northern Cross chooses the best company to get the jobs done on time, safely and with as little environmental impact as possible is most important, Wyman said.

“If someone has an issue with how we do business, they should be talking to us about it, not whining publicly,” Wyman said.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Most Read