Government permits Eagle Plain seismic project

Northern Cross Yukon has received its licence to conduct a 3-D seismic oil and gas exploration program in Eagle Plain. Now the company needs the weather to co-operate.

Northern Cross Yukon has received its licence to conduct a 3-D seismic oil and gas exploration program in Eagle Plain.

Now the company needs the weather to co-operate.

“We are waiting on weather at the moment,” said Richard Wyman, the company’s president. “So as soon as there’s enough snow to start packing some trail, we’ll get underway. That could be a week from now, it could be a month from now, it could be two months from now.”

Seismic surveying is a method for mapping underground resources.

It involves detonating explosives underground and recording the resulting vibrations. It works like radar to determine the composition of what lies beneath the surface.

A 3-D project differs from a 2-D project in intensity.

While a 2-D project may cut only one main line and a few cross lines, with 3-D a comprehensive grid of lines is cut through an area.

Surveying is typically done in the winter, when it’s easier to get around.

“It’s easier to get around when the ground is frozen, you can use snowmobiles and stuff like that,” said Wyman. “Other than having to put up with limited daylight and cold weather, it’s just a better time of year to be moving around off road.”

There are also environmental reasons for waiting for the snow to fall. The ground cover remains relatively undisturbed by activities if it is protected by a blanket of packed snow.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board proposed that a minimum snow pack of 20 centimetres be required to conduct the exploration.

But the department of Energy, Mines and Resources changed that condition, arguing that 10 centimetres is sufficient.

“For previous projects near Eagle Plains, the land-use inspector has verified through field inspections that 10 cm of packed snow is effective in protecting the ground surface,” according to the decision document.

That’s good news for Wyman, who said this week that there has not been much snow in the area and “nothing that’s sticking.”

The exploration permit allows the company to cut up to 2,740 kilometres of trail, mostly between one and three metres in width, with some up to five metres in width.

Under the conditions of the permits, lines must not be cut any wider than is required to get equipment through, and they must meander to avoid larger trees and avoid long sight lines.

The permit allows the drilling of up to 72,852 holes, 10 centimetres wide and nine metres deep.

Just under half of the holes will be filled with one kilogram of dynamite each.

The company hopes to complete 350 to 400 square kilometres of surveying this winter, said Wyman.

The project will cost $17-$20 million, and will employ up to 75 people, according to a Yukon government press release.

Wyman expects that 15 to 20 of those jobs will go to Yukoners, he said.

The company is currently accepting resumes, but is still waiting on the weather to make some of the hiring decisions, said Wyman.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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