John McConnell, president, director and CEO of Victoria Gold Corp, talks on a panel at the 2017 Yukon Geoscience Forum and Trade Show in Whitehorse on Nov. 21. Victoria Gold is still operating during the pandemic and are reporting no cases of COVID-19 on the mine site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Victoria Gold still operating Eagle Gold mine with COVID-19 precautions in place

The mine is still in operation but with precautions, including social distancing, in place

Victoria Gold is still operating during the pandemic and are reporting no cases of COVID-19 on the mine site.

Victoria Gold President and CEO John McConnell spoke with the News about how the mining company is operating the Eagle Gold Mine, north of Mayo, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he was happy to report there are no cases of the virus on-site. A medic is on site and management is stressing for employees to get medical attention if any kind of symptoms manifest.

The shifts have been modified so staff are working on-site for four weeks and off for four weeks. This modification was made 10 days ago.

Victoria Gold has implemented COVID-19 screening. Everyone gets asked a series of questions before being allowed back to the site.

“We know that’s not the most conclusive test but it is what we have now and hopeful, as tests kids for COVID become more available, we’ll be able to actual test before people return to site,” McConnell said.

On site, there are protocols in place.

No one is asked to sign an invoice for supply deliveries, thus contact is avoided. Groups are being limited to 10 people. In the dining area there have been chairs removed to allow for more space between people.

People are asked to wear gloves when they go get in line to receive food.

He said these may seem like small things, but they are all designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

There has not been a scale back of activity. That said, all non essential staff have left the site. Some are working from home, if feasible.

This is primarily administrative staff.

“It’s not as efficient, but we’re managing,” McConnell said.

The social distancing measures are not just for meal time and breaks. Staff are encouraged to continue the practice on the job The workplace rule is to only have two people riding per pickup truck, one in the driver’s seat and the other in the rear passenger seat. The company is only allowing five people in the mine’s gym at any time. Employees must sign up to use it.

This maximizes the distance between people.

“It looks kind of funny on site,” McConnell joked.

Social distancing can be difficult but staff are pulling through, he said.

He said the company is not using commercial flights at the moment. On the next rotation, Victoria Gold will be chartering flights. Staff is encouraged to have minimal interaction with other Yukoners.

Victoria Gold’s workforce is comprised of 380 people. This includes contractors and caterers.

The plan is to keep the mine running as long as possible. He said employees do not want to be out of work either. Some were happy to see work increase to four weeks.

The News reached out to Minto Management Limited, the operators the Minto Mine, but CEO John Brim felt he was not able to comment on future operations at this time. He did forward a brief statement.

“As you will appreciate, the current situation is very fluid,” it read. “We may possibly put out a statement in due course that would respond to your questions. However we think it’s appropriate to await final Government policy for now.”

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

Coronavirusmining

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