Wellgreen Platinum seeks LNG power

Yukon's Wellgreen platinum mining project hopes to become the first mining project in Canada powered by liquefied natural gas. Wellgreen Platinum Inc.

Yukon’s Wellgreen platinum mining project hopes to become the first mining project in Canada powered by liquefied natural gas.

Wellgreen Platinum Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with Ferus Natural Gas Fuels this month for the companies to work together to use LNG to power the project, located off the Alaska Highway north of Burwash Landing.

“It’s a first step towards looking at what the energy needs are for the Wellgreen project and the timing, and determining what is the best source of power, the best source of LNG,” said company president Greg Johnson in an interview last week.

“It also has the two companies working together to look at either expansion of their existing plant, or these alternate locations that could be closer to the Yukon and closer to our project.”

Ferus currently produces natural gas at a facility in Elmworth, Alberta.

But as part of this agreement, the company will look at other possible places where building a new liquefaction facility might make sense.

That could be either closer to the Yukon or in the Yukon, said Johnson.

The company has also signed an agreement with an Alaskan producer of liquefied natural gas.

That would give the project flexibility to have multiple suppliers and be able to choose to buy power in Canadian or American dollars, said Johnson.

LNG is catching on as a source of power for remote projects because it is relatively cheap compared to diesel.

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation currently ships LNG up the Dempster to its generators in Inuvik.

Here in Whitehorse, Yukon Energy is building a new LNG facility along Robert Service Way to cover Yukon’s increasing demand for peak and back-up power.

Lots of remote mining operations, too, are looking to natural gas for their power needs.

The massive proposed Casino copper mine near Carmacks hopes to build an LNG facility that would more than double the capacity of all power generation in the Yukon.

Wellgreen is currently working on its preliminary economic assessment, said Johnson.

After that, the next step will be to complete pre-feasibility and feasibility studies.

If all goes well, construction on the project could begin as early as 2017, said Johnson.

That’s the stage where power infrastructure on a large scale would be required.

“The company over the last two years has spent about $15 million drilling, engineering and doing metallurgical test work. We just released a major update on our resource estimate for the project, and that more than doubled the previous size of the resource from 2012.”

The mine, if it is built, “could be one of the largest producers of platinum/palladium in the First World,” said Johnson.

But that doesn’t mean it will be a mega-mine.

“The platinum market is a quite a bit smaller market than gold, so what might not be a really large mine for a gold mine can be a very large mine for platinum.”

The biggest demand for platinum is for catalytic converters in cars, said Johnson.

Most of the metal is produced in Russia and South Africa.

The Wellgreen site, which was mined briefly in the 1970s, is on the settlement land of the Kluane First Nation.

The First Nation has a co-operation agreement with Wellgreen that includes shares in the company, among other considerations.

“We have a really good working relationship with them, and the Kluane have been great to collaborate with as we have started to introduce our project to both the territorial regulators as well as the federal regulatory agencies,” said Johnson.

“We feel really good about going into this in terms of an approach working with the Kluane that is transparent with them and keeping them updated as the project is advancing.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading