Eagle mine hungry for power

Victoria Gold is hoping to have its Eagle gold mine up and running by the end of 2014, and that could leave Yukon Energy scrambling to find a way to power it.

Victoria Gold is hoping to have its Eagle gold mine up and running by the end of 2014, and that could leave Yukon Energy scrambling to find a way to power it.

Right now, the territorial power grid can put out about 430 gigawatt hours, and it’s already at capacity. Eagle will need an additional 100 gigawatt hours, and a year and a half isn’t a lot of time to find it, said Janet Patterson, a spokeswoman for Yukon Energy.

As far as she knows, the plan is still to hook the mine up to the power grid and the utility is searching for possible ways to cover the additional load.

“Nobody’s told us that they aren’t connecting,” she said. “We’re still in discussions with them on it, but there’s not been any power purchase agreement signed either.”

Possible solutions include using wind generation, finding ways to conserve energy, or more likely a combination of both.

“I guess we could just do nothing and just use more diesel, but that’s not something we’re interested in doing,” Patterson said.

“We’re looking at enhancing some of our hydro abilities, but again, this takes time. We’re looking at liquefied natural gas, which would be used in place of diesel. It’s cheaper. Arguably it’s cleaner. I’ve seen reports on both sides of the fence on that,” she said.

The Yukon government has said that it is looking at other options, including having the mine generate its own power on site.

That was news to Victoria Gold’s president and CEO, John McConnell, the last time he spoke to the News.

“No, it’s still our intention to tie into the grid. We’re actually not permitted to have our own power system, so we’re working very closely with Yukon Energy Corporation to tie into the grid and have them provide power,” McConnell said in an April 11 interview.

On Wednesday in the legislature, Klondike Liberal MLA Sandy Silver pointed out the apparent contradiction, and asked how the government plans to power the new mine.

In response, Energy minister Brad Cathers questioned the accuracy of McConnell’s comments while fending off Silver’s question and insisting the government and the company are looking at alternatives.

“I would encourage the member not to assume that every story in the newspaper is always correct … As far as them hooking up to the grid, that has not been determined to be the final option yet, and there has also been discussion between Yukon Energy Corporation and Victoria Gold, as well as the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and Victoria Gold about the possibility of Victoria Gold choosing to generate its power onsite,” Cathers said.

Neither Cathers nor Victoria Gold returned calls for comment on this story. Cabinet communications spokesman Matthew Grant repeated Cathers’s insistence that other options are being looked at.

Stephen Mills, the chair of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board, said that when the Eagle project was assessed, it was under the assumption that the mine would tie into the territorial power grid. If that changes, Victoria Gold would have to submit a new project proposal that covers the changes. However, that would not necessarily trigger an entire reassessment of the mine, Mills said.

Patterson said that, from the utility’s perspective, at this point it’s not clear whether the mine will tie into the grid or not.

“I think that’s probably part of the discussions. I don’t think there’s been any decision made one way or the other,” she said.

But even without Eagle, the utility still needs to find ways to sate the territory’s increasing power appetite.

“If you take Victoria Gold out of the picture altogether, the demand is still growing. Lots of new buildings are electrically heated. Whistle Bend will probably be electrically heated … that’s what we’re faced with,” said Patterson.

The Eagle gold mine is located 85 kilometres northeast of Mayo. It is expected to operate for eight years, but it could operate for far longer if the company keeps proving up new deposits.

Eagle has 2.3 million ounces of probable gold reserves and is expecting to produce around 212,000 ounces per year in its first five years.

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

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read