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Victoria Gold Corp fined for cyanide spill

CEO says cleanup was done immediately following the March 2021 spill.
An aerial view of the Eagle Gold Mine. (File Photo)

The Eagle Gold Mine has been fined for spilling cyanide and instructed to refurbish a newly-constructed creek crossing.

The mine, operated by Victoria Gold, was inspected by the Yukon government on May 20.

Investigation found a cyanide solution spill took place on March 15. Sodium cyanide is used in heap leach mining to dissolve gold out of ore.

According to the inspectors’ comments, the 70-litre spill originated from the mine’s heap leach facility. The inspector found that the spill could have been prevented if the company had followed the approved protocols and practices in their cyanide management plan and standard practices and procedures relating to heap leach facilities.

The mining company was issued a summary convictions fine under the Environment Act for the release of contaminants and failure to handle a hazardous substance in a way that prevents contamination. According to major mines inspector Matthew Jenner, two $230 fines were issued under section 112 and section 122 of the environment act.

John McConnell, Victoria Gold’s CEO, said in an interview that cleanup from the spill took place in March, shortly after it was found on an access road.

Contaminated material from the site of the spill was dug up and put back into the heap leach facility, he explained. When further samples found traces of cyanide, he said the area was excavated again and one more test found no cyanide.

McConnell added that design modifications have been made for the heap leach facility with the goal of preventing future spills.

The inspectors who visited the mine on May 20 also issued an immediate request for corrective action to the construction of a culvert allowing for the crossing of a creek on the mine property in order to protect water quality.

“I understand corrective actions to remove overburden and recontour have been undertaken. It is also my understanding VGCX placed seed on the culvert banks (prior to the May Inspection) in attempts to promote revegetation this summer season and this area will be targeted in VGCX’s fall September revegetation program,” the inspection report signed by Jenner states.

“I understand, that the culvert crossing is scheduled for additional work this summer, as it requires extension. VGCX has informed me that when the extension is performed on the crossing, VGCX has plans to place armor stone to finalize the design of the Eagle crossing.”

The placement of a gate on a road accessing the mine property is a point of contention between Victoria Gold and the Yukon government. The report on the May 20 inspection states that a gate installed by the mine company on the Haggart Creek public access road is not authorized under the company’s Quartz Mining License. It goes on the say that the company has been asked to move the placement of the gate allowing public access to nearby placer mines, hiking trails and other natural resources.

McConnell says the placement of the gate is in the interest of public safety as the access road runs through the mine site where heavy machinery is in use. Despite this, he said they are looking into a reconfiguration of the gate. He added that the company has good relations with placer miners in the area and allows them access through the gate.

The inspection also found the handling of waste at the Eagle gold site in compliance with Victoria Gold’s permits but a new landfill site should be chosen as the current one is nearing capacity. It found that the mine’s fuelling centres were clean, tidy and in good order.

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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