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Second cyanide spill in six months reported at Yukon gold mine

Report says 17,000 litres of the solution escaped.
Another cyanide solution spill has been reported at Victoria Gold Corp’s Eagle Gold Mine. (File Photo)

Another spill of cyanide solution has been reported at the Victoria Gold Corporation’s Eagle Gold Mine.

A report on the July 30 spill from the company was posted to the Yukon Water Board’s website. It states that a high-pressure spray of the cyanide solution escaping from a distribution pipe was discovered at 4 a.m. The report states that the gasket at the capped end of the distribution pipe failed leading to a spray of the cyanide solution.

“The distribution line is located entirely within the lined area of the heap, however the spray impacted the west embankment berm roadway outside of lined containment.”

The report estimates that 17 cubic metres or 17,000 litres of the solution escaped contaminating 176 cubic metres of earth nearby. It states that the solution had travelled down the roadway before it was picked up by a ditch and drained back into the heap leach area.

“Water quality samples were taken on the afternoon of July 30 to evaluate Dublin Gulch and Haggart Creek to ensure that our observations were accurate. Preliminary water quality results attached show no detection of total cyanide or weak acid dissociable (WAD) cyanide,” the report reads.

Victoria Gold CEO John McConnell said that although the July 30 spill was much larger than the one the mine was fined for in March, cleanup from this spill was easier because a ditch captured much of the solution and drained it back into the contained heap leach area.

“We learn from every one of these,” McConnell said.

He added that in response to the most recent spill, the mine would be installing guards made by cutting culverts in half in order to prevent the spray from escaping in the event of another gasket failure.

The report states that Underhill Geomatics was on site to mark the course of the spill. McConnell said dry conditions made it easy to see where the spray had reached. The report explains that the flow path was excavated and impacted material was dumped back into the heap leach area. This was followed by the taking of 37 soil samples on Aug. 2 which returned cyanide concentrations which the report says are well below standards.

Yukon NDP leader Kate White said the fact that the spill is the second in six months at the Eagle Mine suggests it is time to reconsider the Yukon government’s role in enforcement of regulations for mines.

She said that as the fine for the last spill was only $460, the consequences don’t seem severe enough. She noted that under the environment act some poaching offences carry more severe penalties.

White said she hopes to see the Yukon legislature look at updated mining legislation and wants a new approach to fees and penalties to be part of the conversation.

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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