Michael Gates & Lori Garrison
Victoria Gold Corporation officially broke ground for the first phase of construction of the Eagle gold mine on Aug. 18.
The ground-turning ceremony, which welcomed 50 people, including members of the business community and politicians, took place at Dublin Gulch, the future site of the new open-pit mine, 85 kilometres north of Mayo.
The Eagle Mine is slated to be the largest-ever gold mine in the Yukon, and is expected to employ up to 400 people in the territory. Victoria Gold acquired the property in 2009 and has invested $130 million in it so far, $50 million of which has gone to Yukon-based companies, said John McConnell, president and CEO of Victoria Gold Corporation.
“This is all good for the Yukon,” said Premier Sandy Silver, noting the significant capital investment that has gone into the project so far.
The Eagle Mine is situated on the traditional territory of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation. Silver cited the partnership between the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation and Victoria Gold as a model for First Nations in other parts of the Yukon.
“This is our land and we are happy to share it with you,” said Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation Chief Simon Mervyn. “We are not opposed to development but we want to be part of the the plan, and we will be, for years to come.”
Mervyn characterized the relationship with Victoria Gold as similar to being in a family.
“You get along once in a while. You fight a lot, but usually we come to an agreement because we have respect for each other,” he said.
This phase of construction is slated to cost $40 million, the company said in an August 21 press release. The total cost of building the mine is expected to be $400 million. This stage of development includes expanding an already-established camp at Dublin Gulch, heap-leach pad construction and setting up the crusher foundation. McConnell said he hoped to have gold coming out of the mine in two years time.
In conjunction with this phase of construction, the company awarded multiple contracts, which “include significant participation by the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun Development Corporation,” the company said. This includes contracts for earthworks by Pelly Construction and NDDC-Cobalt JV, catering and site services and camp facilities by NND Summit Camp Services Ltd., construction of access road and bridge upgrades by NNDDC-Cobalt Ltd. and surveying by Underhill, a NNDDC partnership.
Gold deposits on the 555 square kilometre property are estimated to include around 2.7 million ounces. The mine is expected to have an operating life of 10 to 15 years.
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