Mines seek local labour

Work at the Minto mine has gone underground. Underground operations at Capstone Mining Corp.'s copper-gold mine in central Yukon began in September, said Ron Light, the company's general manager.

Work at the Minto mine has gone underground.

Underground operations at Capstone Mining Corp.‘s copper-gold mine in central Yukon began in September, said Ron Light, the company’s general manager.

That should allow the mine, which opened as an open-pit operation in 2007, to operate for another decade, Light told a crowd at the Yukon Geoscience Forum. And there could be more exploration work done after that, he said.

The Minto mine is expected to produce 38 million tonnes of copper this year, said Light. Right now, it produces 3,600 tonnes of copper a day, along with gold and silver byproducts. There are currently 14.4 million tonnes of copper in reserves, he said.

Plans are being made for phases five and six in the northern part of the mine. The company is still waiting for approval from government regulatory boards, he said.

This future work will involve more underground mining, he said.

And this requires employees with specialized training. The company offers a 700-hour training program in underground mining. It is developing partnerships with Yukon College and Yukon Mine Producers Group to teach mining skills.

Developing a skilled workforce is a priority for the territory’s three operating mines, the forum heard.

Hiring locally reduces companies’ costs. On average, mining companies spend just over $1,300 a month on transportation for each worker from Outside. Transportation for employees who live here costs just over $200 monthly.

In 2012, 404 of the 977 people working at the territory’s mines were Yukoners. Between 2013 and 2017, around 1,062 people are expected to work in mines each year. About 43 per cent of these workers will be from the territory.

The Yukon’s small workforce is a challenge, said Brad Thrall, executive vice-president from Alexco Resources Corp., which operates silver mines near Keno.

Almost half of Alexco’s costs are spent on employees. Most of its workers fly in and out on two-week rotations. It has more than 150 employees in the Yukon and 120 contract jobs.

The Bellekeno mine produces 250 tonnes of silver a day. The underground mine has a four-year life. The company hopes to begin production at the Onek mine early next year. It has a three-year mine life.

As mines continue production, workers need different skills, said Don Strickland, general manager of Yukon Zinc Corp., which runs the Wolverine silver and zinc mine north of Watson Lake.

“It’s not just about hiring labourers to help out with construction and short-term contracts. It’s hiring someone for theoretically 10 years, and going to work everyday day-in and day-out,” said Strickland.

Commercial production began at the Wolverine mine early this year. The underground mine produces 1,600 tonnes of ore daily. The full production capacity is 1,700 tonnes. Yukon Zinc hopes to reach that point early next year, said Strickland.

The mine employs about 350 people.

“As a producers’ group, we’re focused on how do we develop those skills in the Yukon instead of importing those skills from other traditional mining areas, like Timmins, Sudbury, Newfoundland – those areas where there’s a long history of underground mining. Fortunately, we had a good industry of underground mining, but it was a 100 years ago,” he said.

The three companies expressed their commitment to working with First Nations.

This week, Capstone is holding a job fair in Pelly Crossing. It is also developing a heavy-equipment operator program with the Selkirk First Nation. Seven per cent of the company’s 316 employees come from the First Nation.

Capstone’s relationship with the Selkirk First Nation “seems to be getting better and better,” said Light.

Right now, there are 142 First Nation employees in Yukon mines. Between 2013 and 2017, there are expected to be 202 First Nation employees each year.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon paleontologists Grant Zazula (left) and Elizabeth Hall (right) examine mammoth fossils in Whitehorse on June 10. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mammoth bones discovered at Dawson mine site

“So this is just a start, hopefully, we’re going to be learning a lot.”

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Team Yukon during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. (Submitted/Sport Yukon)
Whitehorse will bid for 2027 Canada Winter Games

Bid would be submitted in July 2022

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

It’s been a long time since most Yukoners have seen downtown Skagway. (Andrew Seal/Yukon News file)
What Canada-U.S. border changes could mean for Alaska travel

The federal government is expected to make an announcement on Monday

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
City building plans move forward

Council approves procurement going ahead

Western and Northern premiers met this week to discuss joint issues. (Joe Savikataaq/Twitter)
Premiers meet at Northern Premiers’ Forum and Western Premiers’ Conference

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq virtually hosted both meetings this year

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Most Read