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Report flags slope instability at Victoria Gold mine

Company put mitigations such as dams in place to keep sediment out of creek
A photo showing instability in the overburden pile at Victoria Gold’s Eagle Gold Mine and a check dam put in place to contain it. (Yukon Government image)

Slipping sediment at the Victoria Gold Corporation’s Eagle Gold Mine was identified as a concern by inspectors following a Sept. 16 visit to the site.

According to a report from the Yukon government’s department of energy, mines and resources released on Oct. 14, the September inspection primarily focused on the physical instability of a stockpile of overburden near the mine’s heap leech facility and follow-ups to earlier cyanide solution spills.

The report says that upgrades to the pipe that leaked in July would help address the risk of a future flange failure of the kind that caused the spill and support the expansion of piping at the mine’s heap leech facility.

According to the report, inspectors spent a significant amount of time documenting the physical instability of the pile of overburden, earth which was moved during the expansion of the mine’s heap leech facility.

“The company provided the information required by the July 22nd inspection report, including the map depicting the area impacted by the overburden movement. The company reported to the inspector that on Aug. 15th, heavy rains had caused additional downslope migration of overburden into vegetation surrounding Haggart Creek,” it reads.

The report details how temporary mitigation measures that used sediment fencing, hay bales and trees to try to stop the impact of the sliding material were put in place. It says check dams were installed along two access roads below the overburden stockpile. Material collected by the dams is being removed by a vacuum truck and taken elsewhere.

The mine is also excavating unstable material on the overburden stockpile and stabilizing the slope using large rock. Victoria Gold has consulted with Tetra Tech, an engineering firm, to come up with long-term solutions to the problem that can be put into place once ground conditions allow. The report mentions reducing the grade of the pile and revegetating the area.

Victoria Gold CEO John McConnell said the thawing of frozen material in the pile sped up the sloughing of earth off the overburden pile. He said frozen material has since been removed to thaw elsewhere. He said overall, mitigation measures have been a success so far.

The report also brings up the issue of a gate installed by Victoria Gold across the Haggart Creek road. It says reconfiguration of the gate, something the government has requested since an inspection in May, is still required to ensure public access.

Brian Zaluski, a placer miner who uses the Haggart Creek Road to access some of his claims described being hassled at the gate and questioned why it couldn’t be at the entrance to the entrance of the mine’s camp down a branch off the main road.

McConnell maintains that the gate is in the interest of public safety and mine staff, has never impeded entry but needs to know who is passing through the area. He said with the number of disused roads and trails in the area people could get turned around and find themselves in a potentially dangerous area of the mine site.

He said he recently met with minister of energy, mines and resources John Streicker and thinks a compromise on the gate is near.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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